The Chicago Cubs are in a bit of a funk right now, having lost four of their past five games. But they have three more games against the Phillies at home, another three against the Yankees, and then finally three more against the Rockies, before an off day comes late next week.
If they’re going to get things right, it needs to start during this stretch of baseball.
And they have the right guy on the mound to do it tonight, as Jon Lester looks to bounce back from a couple of rough starts in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
After giving up just two earned runs through his first three starts of the year (18.0 IP), Lester has allowed 10 earned runs in the two starts (11.1 IP) since. His command continues to be fine, but his strikeout rate has really plummeted over the past three games. He’s not the only problem, but the Cubs starting staff has been pretty rough lately – someone needs to play stopper.
Opposing Lester and the Cubs, is Phillies’ righty, Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson has technically been the Phillies most productive starter (1.80 ERA, 0.6 WAR), but there’s a lot underneath the surface suggesting regression: 3.63 FIP, 5.26 xFIP, .196 BABIP, 86.2% strand rate, 32.3% ground ball rate, 4.4% HR/FB ratio … I can go on. In fact, by almost every advanced analytical measure, Hellickson is outproducing his underlying performance. Let’s see if the Cubs can make tonight the beginning of the end.
In his last start, Hellickson allowed just one earned run over 6.0 innings, but struck out just one batter in the process (walking none). If the Cubs are going to do damage, they’ll have to put the ball in play a lot.
With the exception of the pitcher, the Phillies lineup is exactly the same as last night’s.
Chicago Cubs (13-12) at Philadelphia Phillies (12-12) – 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 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 today.
Cubs: Jon Lester (L): 3.68, 3.58 FIP, 3.89 xFIP; 2.89 K/BB
Phillies: Jeremy Hellickson (R): 1.80 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 5.26 xFIP; 3.67 K/BB
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B
- Aaron Altherr, LF
- Odubel Herrera, CF
- Maikel Franco, 3B
- Michael Saunders, RF
- Tommy Joseph, 1B
- Freddy Galvis, SS
- Cameron Rupp, C
- Jeremy Hellickson, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, RF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jon Lester, P
- Javy Baez, 2B