You have to be thrilled with the Cubs winning two out of three against the Diamondbacks on the road, because now, the schedule gets way easier.
First, they’ll play four straight against the Reds at Wrigley Field, before hosting another three against the Blue Jays this weekend. After that, the Cubs head out on the road, but have the benefit of playing against the Reds (again) and the Phillies, before returning back to Chicago.
All three of those teams (over the next four series) are in last place of their division. The Cubs can (and frankly need to) take advantage.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (61-55) have just regained sole-possession of first place in the NL Central with a series win over the Diamondbacks. They have a one game lead over the Cardinals and 13 games on the last place Reds.
The Cincinnati Reds (49-69) are among the worst teams in baseball, and are in last place of the NL Central. They’ve lost two games in a row and have won just two series in the second half of the season (Padres and Pirates).
Game Times and Broadcasts
Location: Wrigley Field
- Monday, August 14 at 7:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
- Tuesday, August 15 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
- Wednesday, August 16 at 7:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
- Thursday, August 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 gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Lineup or Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
- Jose Quintana (4.42 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 3.95 xFIP; 3.04 K/BB) – L
- Kyle Hendricks (3.70 ERA, 4.21 FIP, 4.01 xFIP; 2.65 K/BB) – R
- John Lackey (4.82 ERA, 5.63 FIP, 4.65 xFIP; 2.73 K/BB) – R
- Jon Lester (3.99 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.56 xFIP; 3.44 K/BB) – L
- Jon Jay, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Alex Avila, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
* There’s a chance Addison Russell can return as soon as today, and in that event, I’d expect to see him immediately back at shortstop, while Baez may get a day off. Alternatively, given the way Baez has been swinging it lately, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stick at second base for most games, as Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist work through things and get time in the outfield when possible.
- Asher Wojciechowski (4.23 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 4.47 xFIP; 5.11 K/BB) – R
- Luis Castillo (3.73 ERA, 4.51 FIP, 4.02 xFIP; 2.27 K/BB) – R
- Homer Bailey (8.31 ERA, 5.84 FIP, 5.38 xFIP; 1.26 K/BB) – R
- Scott Feldman (4.43 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 4.04 xFIP, 2.63 K/BB) – R
- Billy Hamilton, CF
- Jesse Winker, LF
- Joey Votto, 1B
- Adam Duvall, LF
- Scooter Gennett, 2B
- Eugenio Suarez, 3B
- Jose Peraza, SS
- Tucker Barnhart, C
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
Jose Quintana is pitching for the Cubs tonight, and he’s coming off a solid bounce-back game against the Giants (6.0 IP, 3ER, 1BB, 3Ks). He did allow a homer in that one (after allowing three homers the game prior), but remember it was that really flukey Buster Posey homer that maybe shouldn’t even have left the park.
I’m feeling good about his chances, but he needs to limit the hard contact and keep the ball on the ground, things he hasn’t done so well with the Cubs yet.
Kyle Hendricks last start was a short one, and we took a closer look at it here, in case you missed it. In short, Hendricks’ velocity and command seem to be at war with one another, and he probably won’t last deep into games if he can’t find the right balance.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Kris Bryant is on fire and just in time to play his favorite team, the Cincinnati Reds. In 42 career games against the Reds, Bryant is slashing .320/.395/.610 with 12 homers (his most against any team).
As we explored earlier, Javier Baez is having himself a wonderful second half at the plate, slashing .310/.356/.607 with seven long balls, a triple, two doubles, and two stolen bases. That 138 wRC+ is pretty fantastic for the guy filling in as the everyday shortstop.
Cincinnati Reds – Pitching
With four straight righties on the mound for the Reds this week, expect the Cubs to throw a whole bunch of lefties out there. That means we’ll probably see a lot of Jon Jay leading off and plenty of Jason Heyward in right field.
The extent to which Ben Zobrist (switch), Ian Happ (switch), and Kyle Schwarber (lefty) play, however, might depend on how far along in their respective slumps Joe Maddon believes they are.
Tonight’s starter, Asher Wojakrjhwealksjfhlekjhl has been particularly bad against left-handers (.377 wOBA against for his career), so I suspect we may see Kyle Schwarber despite the seven consecutive strikeout streak he’s on.
Cincinnati Reds – Offense
The Reds pitching staff and bullpen may not be too intimidating, but their offense is in the top half of baseball by wRC+ and in the top 7 by wOBA.
And, hey, Joey Votto is still Joey Votto: .314/.446/.600 (165 wRC+).
This series falls firmly in the Cubs’ favor on paper, but anything can happen when the winds start blowing out at Wrigley Field. Oh, and I’ll likely be at one or more of the games this week, so I’ll keep you posted in the Pre-Gamin’ if I’ll be there.