The Cubs and Diamondbacks are matching back up after meeting for a three-game set at Wrigley Field just last week.
The Diamondbacks came out on top in that one, but the series could’ve easily gone the other way (after all, the Cubs outscored them 24-17 during the series). And although four of the six pitchers from last week will play in this series over the weekend, tonight’s two starters, John Lackey and Taijuan Walker, did not appear in any of those games.
Lackey’s season’s numbers are still quite ugly, but he sure as hell has been pitching a lot better lately. In his past five starts dating back to the beginning of July, Lackey’s worked his ERA down to just 3.33 ERA and his FIP down to 4.50.
In addition, while he hasn’t gotten a ton of soft contact (14.9%), he’s done a great job at limiting the hard stuff (24.1% compared to 32.0% league average). Expectedly, that has done wonders for his home run to fly ball ratio, which now sits at just 10.0% during that stretch compared to 22.4% before July. Homers were by far his biggest issue this season, so if he’s found a way to work around him, he may well be a great 5th option the rest of the way.
Taijuan Walker has done well for himself this year and is actually having the best season of his career. And somehow, I’m just now realizing, he’s still only 24 years old (it feels like he’s been around forever). In any case, Walker allowed three earned runs in 6.0 IP his last time out, and has failed to reach 6.0 full innings pitched just three times in his past 11 tries (though he went 5.2 IP in one of those).
Like Lackey lately, Walker has found a way to avoid the home run ball this year, posting a 10.7% HR/FB ratio, solidly below the league average (13.7%). Hopefully, the Cubs can remind him that he posted a 17.6% HR/FB ratio just last year.
It’s another late game tonight, Cubs fans, but hey, it’s Friday. We’re good.
Chicago Cubs (59-54) at Arizona Diamondbacks (64-50) – 8:4o CT on CSN-C, MLBN (out of market), 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: John Lackey (R): 4.81 ERA, 5.57 FIP, 4.67 xFIP; 2.76 K/BB
D-Backs: Taijuan Walker (R): 2.88 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3.95 xFIP; 5.09 K/BB
- Peralta, LF
- A.J. Pollock, CF
- Jake Lamb, 3B
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- J.D. Marintez, RF
- Daniel Descalso, 2B
- Ketel Marte, SS
- Chris Herrmann, C
- Taijuan Walker, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Jon Jay, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Alex Avila, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- John Lackey, P