It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say this iteration of the Cubs/Giants season series is as critical as the last time the two faced off for four at Wrigley Field, but it’s still hugely important.
Pretty crazy to think that the Cubs went into that series a half game behind the Giants for the final Wild Card spot. The Cubs have swung that by seven games.
The good news, then, is that even a sweep in San Francisco would not kill the Cubs. The better news is that the Cubs winning even a single game in San Francisco will severely damage the Giants’ Wild Card hopes.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs beat the Indians in dramatic fashion yesterday to extend their latest winning streak to five. They’ve also won 20 of their last 24 games, which is insane.
The Giants, by contrast, dropped three of four to the Pirates after losing two of three to the Cardinals. Hey, thanks for nothing.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Tuesday, August 25 at 9:15 CT on WGN-9.
- Wednesday, August 26 at 9:15 CT on CSN, ESPN.
- Thursday, August 27 at 2:45 CT on CSN.
And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on MLB.tv.
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
Starters: Jake Arrieta (2.30 ERA, 2.64 FIP; 4.05 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (4.03 ERA, 3.45 FIP; 3.81 K/BB), Dan Haren (6.05 ERA, 6.64 FIP; 5.33 K/BB)
Lineup (taking a guess):
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Chris Coghlan, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Tommy La Stella/Starlin Castro, 2B
- Miguel Montero, C
- Addison Russell, SS
Starters: Matt Cain (5.66 ERA, 5.31 FIP; 2.33 K/BB), Jake Peavy (4.35 ERA, 4.03 FIP; 2.71 K/BB), Madison Bumgarner (3.02 ERA, 2.85 FIP; 6.43 K/BB)
- Nori Aoki, LF
- Matt Duffy, 3B
- Buster Posey, C
- Marlon Byrd, RF
- Brandon Belt, 1B
- Brandon Crawford, SS
- Kelby Tomlinson, 2B
- Gregor Blanco, CF
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Kris Bryant in August: .338/.437/.676. Sup.
It took a while, and it’s still a mere 60 plate appearances, but Kyle Schwarber is finally showing some signs of being human. Since August 9th, he’s hit .140/.267/.440 with a 91 wRC+ and a 36.7% K rate. Still, he’s destroyed the ball when he did make contact and he walked at a 15.0% clip during that stretch. If that’s what “bad” Kyle Schwarber looks like … mercy. (Also, his .083 BABIP during that stretch probably isn’t reflective of true talent.)
Perhaps pitching in spacious AT&T Park will be what Dan Haren needs to put together a solid outing. He hasn’t been effective yet with the Cubs, though he hasn’t quite killed them either. You know he’s good for a homer or two given up each game, but maybe that won’t be the case in this one.
Matt Cain’s nightmare season (following back-to-back disappointing seasons before it) continues, and reminds everyone to be terrified of all long-term pitcher contracts. Cain, who turns 31 in October, is owed $49.5 million for 2016 and 2017 – and that’s the tail end of a team-friendly extension he signed several years ago.
Madison Bumgarner is hitting .254/.279/.525, so basically don’t groove him anything and you might be OK.
Brandon Belt – .274/.351/.483, 135 wRC+ – probably doesn’t get enough credit for being an excellent hitter.
If you were waiting for Matt Duffy to finally fall off … well, it hasn’t happened yet. He’s hitting .323/.354/.452 in August.