A Central showdown between the teams with the two best records in the National League?
It wouldn’t surprise you if I said that’s what was up for an upcoming Cubs series, but it’s OK if you were surprised to learn that the other team is the Reds.
But, since we’re a mere six games into the season, you can go back to not really being surprised.
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs took three of four from the Diamondbacks in Arizona, giving them a nice 5-1 road trip to start the season.
The Reds are also 5-1, and, like the Cubs, their only loss came on a late comeback by the opponent (Pirates, in that case). So that was two of three against the Pirates, and a sweep against the Phillies that preceded it. Watch out, Pennsylvania – the Reds own you!
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, April 11 at 7:05 CT on WGN-9
- Wednesday, April 13 at 7:05 CT on CSN+
- Thursday, April 14 at 7:05 on CSN
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.
- Jon Lester (1.29 ERA, 2.21 FIP; 4.00 K/BB)
- John Lackey (9.00 ERA, 6.85 FIP; 4.00 K/BB)
- Jason Hammel (1.50 ERA, 2.85 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Jorge Soler, LF
- Miguel Montero, C
- Addison Russell, SS
- Brandon Finnegan (3.00 ERA, 3.02 FIP; 9.00 K/BB)
- Alfredo Simon (1.80 ERA, 2.95 FIP; 3.50 K/BB)
- Raisel Iglesias (2.31 ERA, 2.92 FIP; 6.00 K/BB)
- Zack Cozart, SS
- Eugenio Suarez, 3B
- Joey Votto, 1B
- Brandon Phillips, 2B
- Devin Mesoraco, C
- Jay Bruce, RF
- Adam Duvall, LF
- Billy Hamilton, CF
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Pick a Cubs bat. Any Cubs bat. Pretty good chance that Cubs bat is hot.
Here’s some fun: among Cubs regulars, Dexter Fowler’s 278 wRC+ is tops on the team. If you shrink the plate appearance cut off to 8, the leader becomes Matt Szczur at 283. Cut it to 3, and the new leader is Jake Arrieta, at 312. But if you set the cut-off at just one plate appearance, the Cubs’ offensive leader? It’s Munenori Kawasaki and his single, good for a 436 wRC+.
Through 14 innings pitched, Cubs relievers have allowed just 2 earned runs, walked just 1, and struck out 16. Those are bananas numbers.
John Lackey’s Cubs debut didn’t go quite as anyone hoped, but I have a feeling this week’s start is going to look much better. Cooler temperatures and the ball being down a bit more (hopefully), and a guy like Lackey who pounds the zone should have some more success.
Raisel Iglesias started to turn a corner last year, and had an excellent first start this year. He could be a tough one.
Also, Brandon Finnegan was excellent in his opening start. He could be a tough one, too.
In the early going, Eugenio Suarez is the bat to beware, apparently: .435/.500/.957, with four homers.
But basically everyone in the Reds’ lineup has crushed the ball so far, with six regulars posting wRC+ well above 100.
The one laggard? None other than Joey Votto, who is hitting .174/.269/.174. Please don’t break out against the Cubs.