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Series Preview: Cubs at Marlins, June 22 – June 25, 2017

Series Previews

As Brett mentioned in the Enhanced Box Score last night, the Cubs probably should’ve won the final game of the Padres series yesterday. After all, scoring just two runs against that rookie pitcher and that bullpen really can’t happen.


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BUT, the Cubs won their second straight series, and if they keep doing that all season long, we’ll be plenty happy by the end of the year.

Their next challenge will be a four-game set at Marlins Park, and it’ll come with a revamped roster.

The Cubs just beat the Marlins in two out of three games at Wrigley Field a couple weeks ago (outscoring them 18-9 in the process), so hopefully that trend continues. After that, the Cubs’ll stay out on the road for four straight against the Nationals (yikes) and three against the Reds.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (36-35) just won their second consecutive series, but are struggling to take off from .500. They’re still in second place of the NL Central, but trail the Brewers by 1.5 games (same amount of losses, though).


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The Miami Marlins (32-38) just took two out of three from the Washington Nationals (an impressive feat), but lost two out of three to the Braves just before that (distinctly less impressive). They’re .500 in their past ten games and trail the Nats by 10 games in the NL East.

Location: Marlins Park

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Thursday, June 22 at 6:10 CT on CSN-C, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Friday, June 23 at 6:10 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, June 24 at 3:10 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, June 25 at 12:10 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Chicago Cubs

Starters:

  • Jake Arrieta (4.64 ERA, 4.08 FIP, 3.76 xFIP; 3.44 K/BB)
  • John Lackey (4.98 ERA, 5.54 FIP, 4.36 xFIP; 2.96 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (3.83 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 3.69 xFIP; 3.21 K/BB)
  • Mike Montgomery (2.26 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 4.33 xFIP; 1.50 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  2. Kris Bryant, RF
  3. Ian Happ, CF
  4. Addison Russell, SS
  5. Willson Contreras, C
  6. Tommy La Stella, 3B
  7. Javy Baez, 2B
  8. Pitcher
  9. Jon Jay/Mark Zagunis, LF

The lineup has been extremely fluid lately, thanks to Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist’s injuries. Ian Happ may play second base or center field, Tommy La Stella may start at third or not at all, Kris Bryant could see some more time in the outfield than normal, etc. And now Jason Heyward goes to the DL, plus Kyle Schwarber was just sent down to Triple-A Iowa, and Ben Zobrist could return tomorrow, so there’s a lot up in the air. Stay tuned, this lineup is likely to look different all weekend.


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Miami Marlins

Starters:

  • Jeff Locke (4.58 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 4.04 xFIP; 3.00 K/BB)
  • Jose Urena (3.64 ERA, 5.17 FIP, 5.58 xFIP; 1.71 K/BB)
  • Justin Nicolino (5.06 ERA, 6.63 FIP, 5.18 xFIP; 1.43 K/BB)
  • Edinson Volquez (4.19 ERA, 4.27 xFIP, 4.53 xFIP; 1.64 K/BB)

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Dee Gordon, 2B
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
  3. Christian Yelich, CF
  4. Marcell Ozuna, LF
  5. Justin Bour, 1B
  6. J.T. Realmuto, C
  7. Derek Dietrich, 3B
  8. J.T. Riddle, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Cubs – Pitching

Mike Montgomery is scheduled to take the ball on Sunday, which will mark his fourth start for the Cubs this season. And so far, he’s gotten better in every single one of them:

Start One: 4.0 IP, 2ER, 46 GS
Start Two: 5.0 IP, 2ER, 52 GS
Start Three: 6.0 IP, 0ER, 71 GS


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I don’t expect him to magically keep getting better, but if he settles somewhere between his last (fantastic) start and the one (mediocre) one before that, he’ll be the best 7th starter the Cubs have ever had.

Koji Uehara may have walked in the game winning run last night, but that was his first earned run since May. He has been absolutely stellar for the Cubs this season: 2.84 ERA (2.26 FIP); 27.5 K%, 6.9 BB%. Don’t hate.

Chicago Cubs – Offense

Anthony Rizzo’s leadoff streak and hit streak ended yesterday, but it sure was a wonderful stretch of baseball: .420/.524/.860. Hopefully, he picks up right where he left off yesterday.

Ian Happ hit YET ANOTHER home run yesterday, which is becoming a reoccurring theme for him. His walk rate remains high (10.9%), as does his strikeout rate (32.6%), but both have been trending in the right direction for a while now. In fact, in the month of June, Happ has hit eight home runs and has a 150 wRC+.


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I also can’t stop praising Willson Contreras, who’s slashed .286/.342/.486 since May 9 (117 PAs). We saw what he could do with the stick last year, but it’s good to see him continue to be hot after a slow start to the season.

Miami Marlins – Pitching

The Cubs are unlikely to get a juicier four-game pitching matchup than what’s scheduled for this weekend. The Marlins are sending four pitchers to the mound with xFIPs over 4.00 and only one – Jeff Locke – with a K/BB ratio greater than 1.71 (and Locke’s only made four starts this season).

The Marlins offense, which we will get to in a second, is still plenty strong, so the Cubs bats are really going to have to carry the load during this series. It should be doable.

For what it’s worth, the Cubs scored four runs off Locke (3 earned) and three off Urena in their last start against the Cubs. And while that may not seem like much, Locke lasted just 4.2 IP and Urena lasted just 5.0. I think if the Cubs repeat that production, they’ll win this series.


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Miami Marlins – Offense

Like I said, though, the Marlins offense isn’t a weak one, especially now that they have Justin Bour back (he was out when the Cubs last played the Marlins).

Bour, who was taken from the Cubs in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft a few years ago, is having another great year at the plate, slashing .297/.368/.593 (148 wRC+) with 18 home runs in 234 plate appearances. That’s the 15th best offensive production in MLB, and better than anyone on the Cubs. Which, well, crap.

But here’s the thing, he’s not even the Marlins’ best hitter. Instead, that title belongs to Marcell Ozuna, who’s hitting .326/.392/.585 (153 wRC+) in 301 plate appearances. But the trouble doesn’t end there, either. Giancarlo Stanton is having a comeback at the dish (130 wRC+), J.T. Realmuto is hitting the ball well (108 wRC+), and even Christian Yelich has been above average overall this season (101 wRC+) after a slow start.

Altogether, the Marlins have put together a really nice offense. The Cubs pitching staff has their work cut out from them.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.