After such a dismal finish last year, and early-season struggles, you kind of figured the Diamondbacks would be brutally bad this year. They haven’t been. They’ve actually been fairly decent and pesky. Still, this is one of the Cubs’ few remaining “good” match-ups on the year, so hopefully they can take the series.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs dropped their third straight series earlier this week to the Reds, after losing out to the Dodgers and Giants before that. It’s not been a great stretch for the Cubs, but, in fairness, it followed an absolutely insane stretch. It happens.
The D-Backs have also lost quite a bit lately, splitting with the Rockies after losing two of three to the A’s and getting swept in four by the Cardinals. They actually came into that Cardinals series fairly hot, but, you know. At 65-69 overall, they’re not terrible. You’ve been warned.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, September 3 at 1:20 CT on CSN, MLBN.
- Saturday, September 4 at 1:20 CT on CSN.
- Sunday, September 5 at 1:20 CT on WGN-9.
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: Jon Lester (3.59 ERA, 3.06 FIP; 4.15 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (2.11 ERA, 2.50 FIP; 4.32 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (4.15 ERA, 3.53 FIP; 3.46 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Austin Jackson, RF
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Miguel Montero, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Tommy La Stella/Starlin Castro, 2B (and/or Javy Baez, who will be higher if he’s in)
Starters: Zack Godley (1.90 ERA, 3.64 FIP; 2.75 K/BB), Robbie Ray (3.72 ERA, 3.38 FIP; 2.49 K/BB), Rubby De La Rosa (4.46 ERA, 4.68 FIP; 2.64 K/BB)
- Ender Inciarte, RF
- A.J. Pollock, CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- David Peralta, LF
- Welington Castillo, C
- Jake Lamb, 3B
- Phil Gosselin, 2B
- Chris Owings, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
On Kyle Schwarber: with David Ross due to start today, and with a lefty pitching for the Diamondbacks tomorrow, the Cubs might not have utilized Schwarber for those two games anyway, so his rib issue maybe won’t hurt too badly. Yup, I’m definitely stretching to rationalize.
Anthony Rizzo, post-All-Star-Break: .253/.344/.500. Still a very good hitter, but not quite the guy we’ve known him to be. The strikeout rate (21.4%) and walk rate (9.4%) are particularly uncharacteristic of the broken out iteration of Rizzo. Again, neither mark is bad. They’re just not otherworldly like they were in the first half.
The D-Backs get to face two of the three pitchers they faced last time out, but those two are Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta.
Do not sleep on the Diamondbacks’ offense, which is among the best in baseball – and it’s not just all-universe first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt.
Recognize that name up there, Zack Godley? He was one of the pitchers the Cubs dealt to Arizona in the Miguel Montero deal. They converted him back to being a starter, and he rocketed up their system. It doesn’t seem like he’s a long-term big league starter, but the stuff has been good enough for him to have success so far in limited exposure. Hopefully the Cubs have a better book on him than other teams. They should, right?
The second best hitter on the D-Backs? Nope, it’s not A.J. Pollock, though he’s right there. And nope, it’s not Welington Castillo, though he’s been ridiculous since going to AZ from Seattle. It’s late-blooming, pitcher-converted, independent-ball-emerging outfielder David Peralta, who’s hitting .307/.366/.521. A really great story and a really great find for Arizona. (Peralta started his professional career as a pitcher in the Cardinals’ organization before being let go – no voodoo magic there.)
Interestingly, Goldschmidt, Peralta, Pollock and Castillo are the D-Backs’ only above-average bats on the year. But they’ve been SO above average (all four have wRC+ at 134 or better) that it’s carried the offense. In fairness, though, Ender Inciarte, Yasmany Tomas, and Jake Lamb have been right around average bats, too. That’s a lot of offense when you really think about it.