The Cubs will now begin the final four games of their extended home stretch at (or around) Wrigley Field – one that’s lasted over four full weeks.
And while the Cubs have certainly taken advantage of this stretch, things have shown a bit of wear (particularly in the bullpen) here near the end.
With a double header today, to kick things off against the Brewers, the Cubs pitchers will have their work cut out for them. Here’s to some clean, efficient innings.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (73-43) dropped the second half of a four-game set against the Cardinals, but have gone 20-8 in the past month, including an eleven game winning streak. They hold a staggering 12.0 game lead in the NL Central, have not lost a series in the second half, and are on pace to win more than 100 games.
The Milwaukee Brewers (52-64), on the other hand, haven’t won a series here in August and have won just five times in their past 13 tries. They’re just 9.0 games back of the second Wild Card, but are behind a great many teams. The 2016 playoffs are not in their future.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Tuesday, August 16 at 12:20 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
- Tuesday, August 16 at 7:05 CT on WPWR, 670 The Score,
- Wednesday, August 17 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
- Thursday, Agusut 17 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
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.
- Trevor Cahill (no starts in 2016) (3.07 ERA, 4.53 FIP, 4.04 xFIP; 1.92 K/BB)
- Jason Hammel (2.90 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 4.21 xFIP; 2.72 K/BB)
- Jon Lester (2.93 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 3.56 xFIP; 3.56 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (2.55 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 3.47 xFIP; 2.87 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kris Bryant, LF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, 3B
- Matt Garza (4.83 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 4.85 xFIP; 1.55 K/BB)
- Chase Anderson (4.93 ERA, 5.20 FIP, 4.83 xFIP; 2.17 K/BB)
- Jimmy Nelson (4.07 ERA, 4.90 FIP, 4.80 xFIP; 1.66 K/BB)
- Zach Davies (3.80 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 4.03 xFIP; 3.20 K/BB)
- Jonathan Villar, 3B
- Orlando Arcia, SS
- Ryan Braun, LF
- Scooter Gennett, 2B
- Chris Carter, 1B
- Hernan Perez, RF
- Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF
- Martin Maldonado, C
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
Since July 18, Trevor Cahill has made six starts, while stretching out at Triple-A Iowa. Those starts never quite achieved great results (a collective 4.58 ERA), but that was never really the point (to be fair, Cahill did strike out 25 batters in 19.2 IP). If Cahill can give the Cubs 4.0 strong innings in game 1, before handing it over to the pen, he’ll have served an important role/done his duty in this day/night double header.
Similarly, a nice long outing for Jason Hammel tonight would go a long way, especially considering the eight straight games (in eight days) that begin tomorrow. The Cubs are already working with a wonky bullpen, and suddenly, September’s expanded roster couldn’t come soon enough. Although, if Hammel pitches like he has over his past three starts (20.0 IP, 0.45 ERA), he’ll be more than fine.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Try this one on for size: Since July 3, Addison Russell is hitting .275/.338/.481, with seven doubles, a triple, and six home runs – good for a 117 wRC+. Narrow it down to August, and the kid is slashing .282/.370/.487 – a 128 wRC+. The bat has been breaking out for a long time now, and it has been fun to watch.
Also in the month of August, both of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant have done their respective things. While Bryant has slashed a wonderful .304/.385/.543, Rizzo has had an absolutely monster month, slashing .356/.473/.622 (189 wRC+), with a walk rate (16.4%) greater than his strikeout rate (9.1%). The Cubs offense is alive and kicking (err … swinging).
Milwaukee Brewers – Pitching
Matt Garza has had yet another tough year in 2016, after a poor showing in 2015. And although his previous three starts have shown nice results (2.60 ERA), trouble is very clearly lurking just under the surface (5.44 FIP). In those three starts (17.1 IP), for example, Garza has allowed seven walks and three home runs, against just 10 strikeouts. If he continues allowing that many free passes and long balls, he may find this particular Cubs offense a bit difficult to work through.
Through three starts against the Cubs this season, Jimmy Nelson is holding hitters to a .186/.324/.305 slash line, leading to a 1.53 ERA through 17.2 innings pitched. For whatever reason, Nelson has had the Cubs number in each of the past few seasons. Perhaps Wednesday will be the end of the madness.
Milwaukee Brewers – Offense
Throughout the season, I had written about the sneaky pop lurking in the Brewers lineup, but without Jonathan Lucroy (and his resurgent 2016), it looks a lot less dangerous. Ryan Braun (149 wRC+) and Jonathan Villar (120 wRC+) are still having really nice seasons, but Chris Carter has fallen off a bit, lately, (104 wRC+) and Scooter Gennett is, well, Scooter Gennett.
The Brewers lineup was already pretty mediocre, but without Jonathan Lucroy, Cubs pitchers should be attacking early and often.