The Chicago Cubs have won five straight games and eight of their last 10, while the Oakland Athletics haven’t been going to well, having lost seven of their last 10.
Jake Arrieta takes the ball for the Cubs and will look to rebound from a winless July in which he went 0-3 (5 starts) with a 4.88 ERA/3.86 FIP/3.63 xFIP. Arrieta did pick up quality starts in two of his last three outings in July. Further, the Cubs have lost seven of Arrieta’s last 10 starts dating back to the start of June. But if Arrieta can deliver a quality start in Oakland, it could go a long way toward getting back into the win column.
Of course, a win today for the Cubs would be the team’s sixth straight.
Sonny Gray provides the opposition for Arrieta and the Cubs. Gray has cooled considerably after pitching to a 2.91 ERA/3.46 FIP/3.57 xFIP in 64 starts spanning the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He had solid peripherals, too, with a 20.4 K%, 7.7 BB% and 54.4 GB%. And to top things off, Gray finished third in AL Cy Young voting in 2015. Fast forward to 2016 and Gray has pitched to a 5.84 ERA/4.79 FIP/4.10 xFIP. The ground ball rate hasn’t varied much, but Gray has seen a drop in strikeout rate (18.5 K%) and an increase in walk rate (8.5 BB%). In the past calendar year, Gray owns a 5.36 ERA/4.83 FIP/4.16 xFIP.
The Athletics have been waiting for Gray to turn it around. And while it could happen any day now, perhaps his resurgence can wait another start.
Chicago Cubs (67-41) at Oakland Athletics (48-61), 3:05 CT on CSN Chicago, 670 The Score.
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down in the comments, so let’s have some good, clean (safe-for-work) fun this afternoon.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta (R): 2.75 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 3.36 xFIP; 2.84 K/BB
Athletics: Sonny Gray (R): 5.84 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 4.10 xFIP; 2.17 K/BB
Oakland Athletics Lineup:
- Coco Crisp, LF
- Max Muncy, 2B
- Stephen Vogt, C
- Khris Davis, DH
- Danny Valencia, RF
- Yonder Alonso, 1B
- Marcus Semien, SS
- Jake Smolinski, CF
- Ryon Healy, 3B
Khris Davis is the Athletics player who is most familiar with Jake Arrieta, but owns a .211/.250/.316/.566 slash line in 20 plate appearances. Two of Davis’ four hits in 19 at-bats against Arrieta were doubles. Other than that, he has struck out four times and walked once against today’s Cubs starter.
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Jorge Soler, DH
- Miguel Montero, C
- Willson Contreras, LF
Only three Cubs batters have faced Sonny Gray and their experience is quite limited. Ben Zobrist is 2-for-5 with two doubles and a walk, Dexter Fowler is 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and Jason Heyward is 0-for-3.
And we can’t forget about the throwbacks the teams will be wearing today.