Hello, friends. It’s Memorial Day, and the Cubs are barely over .500. Are you freaking out yet?
We’re Going Streaking
After showing signs of life against the Giants, Brewers, and Reds, the Chicago Cubs (26-25) were just swept in three against the Dodgers. Regardless of how things play out the rest of the year, I think it’s safe to say this first part of the season didn’t go quite the way we thought it would. I’m still taking the Cubs in the Central without blinking, but it’s definitely a lot more stressful than 2016.
But if you think you’re having a bad time, remember: it could be worse … you could be fans of the San Diego Padres (19-30). The Padres just lost a series against the Nats and won one against the Mets, but lost six straight series before that.
Location: Petco Park
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, May 29 at 3:40 CT on ABC 7, MLBN, 670 The Score
- Tuesday, May 30 at 9:10 CT on CSN-C+, 670 The Score
- Wednesday, May 31 at 2:40 CT on WGN, MLBN, 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 Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
- Kyle Hendricks (3.25 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 3.96 xFIP; 2.93 K/BB)
- Eddie Butler (1.93 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 5.10 xFIP; 0.90 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (4.92 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 3.58 xFIP; 4.27 K/BB)
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ian Happ, CF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Addison Russell, SS
Javy Baez will work his way in, too, of course.
San Diego Padres
- Jarred Cosart (4.50 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 5.55 xFIP; 0.73 K/BB)
- Dinelson Lamet (1.80 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 2.73 xFIP; 4.00 K/BB)
- Luis Perdomo (5.61 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 3.24 xFIP; 3.23 K/BB)
- Allen Cordoba, LF
- Yangervis Solarte, 2B
- Wil Myers, 1B
- Ryan Schimpf, 3B
- Hunter Renfroe, RF
- Franchy Cordero, CF
- Chase d’Arnaud, SS
- Luis Torrens, C
Matt Szczur will also work in throughout the outfield. (Hi, Matt.)
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
Eddie Butler will make his fourth start for the Cubs tomorrow evening (a late one), and it’s another highly anticipated event. Of course, all of his starts have been highly anticipated this season – given his upside and the apparent rotational struggles – but this one is particularly interesting because of his general unpredictability.
If you remember back, Butler’s first start was surprisingly great (71 GS), his second start was a dud (39 GS), and his most recent one was a step in the right direction (56 GS), though it was laced with hard contact. So far, Butler’s been mostly as advertised (more walks than strikeouts, not very efficient, middling ground ball rate), but the upside is fairly obvious. Get there, dude, because the Cubs could use your help.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
After a blisteringly hot stretch, Anthony Rizzo is now hitting .239/.369/.473 overall with a team-leading 12 home runs (six of which came in his last 51 plate appearances). During that stretch, Rizzo’s slashing .326/.431/.767 which is good for a 202 wRC+.
And this is why, my friends, I will never be “worried” about Anthony Rizzo, the hitter. He is arguably one of the most consistent and dependable hitters the Cubs have ever had:
Among Chicago Cubs players w/ at least 3,000 PAs since 1901, Anthony Rizzo's 134 wRC+ is tied for 4th best w/ Billy Williams and Sammy Sosa.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) May 29, 2017
San Diego Padres – Pitching
Starting opposite Butler tomorrow night is the Padres’ rookie right-hander Dinelson Lamet. Lamet has made just one start this season, but it was a fairly good one: 5.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 2BB, 8Ks. To be sure, Lamet is far from a top pitching prospect, but he was throwing pretty well in Triple-A earlier this season. Hopefully, the Cubs take advantage of his inexperience and make the Padres pay.
And for what it’s worth, the Padres’ bullpen has been one of the worst in the league this season. So even if the Cubs can’t get to the starters (they should be able to), they can get to the relievers.
San Diego Padres – Offense
The Padres group of position players is ranked dead last in WAR this season. As a matter of fact, they are the only team still sporting a collective negative war (-0.4) overall. Just one of their qualified hitters, Wil Myers, has been above average this season, and he’s hitting just .265/.317/.505. Yikes.
Since leaving for the Padres, Matt Szczur has hit just .216/.326/.351 (88 wRC+).
On paper, the Cubs have an enormous advantage over the Padres this week. They should really, really win this series.