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Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, August 22 – August 24, 2017

Series Previews

It’s time for an eastern swing!

After sweeping the Blue Jays at home, the Cubs are heading out onto the road for three games against the Reds, followed by three more against the Phillies. After that, they’ll head back to Chicago, but continue to face below .500 east coast (er, uh, you know, more east than Chicago) teams like the Pirates and Braves.


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Through the rest of the season, the Brewers are the best team (by current record) the Cubs will face, so this division is theirs for the taking.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (66-57) just won three games in a row and seven of their last ten. With one more win tonight, they’ll set a new season high of 10 games over .500. Their lead in the NL Central is 2.5 games over the Brewers, also a season high.

After splitting their four-game series against the Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds (53-72) beat the Braves in two out of three contests. Despite being 4-2 in their last six games though, the Reds are just 5-5 in their past ten and are 14.0 games out of first.


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Game Times and Broadcasts

Location: Great American Ballpark

  • Tuesday, August 22 at 6:10 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, August 23 at 6:10 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, August 24 at 6:10 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:

  • John Lackey (4.67 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 4.65 xFIP; 2.67 K/BB) – R
  • Mike Montgomery (3.64 ERA, 4.23 FIP, 4.44 xFIP; 1.71 K/BB) – L
  • Jake Arrieta (3.63 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 4.06 xFIP; 3.00 K/BB) – R

Approximate Lineup*:

  1. Jon Jay, CF
  2. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  6. Alex Avila, C
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Javy Baez, SS
  9. Pitcher

*You know the drill with the ever-rotating Cubs lineup. There is still no word that Addison Russell will be back any time soon, by the way.


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Cincinnati Reds

Starters:

  • Homer Bailey (8.44 ERA, 5.70 FIP, 5.22 xFIP; 1.37 K/BB) – R
  • TBA () –
  • Sal Romano (5.32 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 5.00 xFIP; 1.68 K/BB) – R

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Jesse Winker, LF
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Adam Duvall, LF
  5. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  6. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  7. Jose Peraza, SS
  8. Tucker Barnhart, C
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Cubs – Pitching

Tonight’s starter, John Lackey, just faced the Reds last week and did a great job keeping their powerful offense in check: 6.0 IP, 4H, 1ER, 3BB, 6Ks. He’s been good for a long time now, and has actually allowed more than 3 earned runs just once in his past ten starts.

Since the beginning of July, he has a 3.29 ERA, 4.57 FIP and, thanks to very little hard contact, and just an 11.9% HR/FB ratio. Whew.


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After hitting a bit of a rough patch back at the beginning of August, Carl Edwards Jr. has turned the heat back up: 1.59 ERA, 2.78 FIP over his past 5.2 innings. More importantly, he’s walked just one guy (5.6 BB%) and struck out nine (50 K%) over that stretch.

The rest of the bullpen has also been perfectly effective every single time out, and I’ll just keep typing …

Chicago Cubs – Offense

We got so caught up in the weekend of Javy, we basically overlooked the fact that Rizzo has been ON FIRE lately (indeed, he won NL Player of the Week last week).

But it’s not like his success is only recent. In the second half of the season, Rizzo is slashing .292/.391/.523 with eight homers. You might otherwise have expected Rizzo to walk a bit more (9.9%) and strikeout a bit less (16.6%), but that’s really only because we hold him to the highest standards (seriously, those are both great marks, we just know Rizzo can be ELITE in those two categories).

In any case, he’s hitting for plenty of power (.231 ISO) and it’s not like he’s getting ridiculously lucky (.309 BABIP). He’s just getting plenty of hard contact (39.1%) and is putting the ball in the air and on line drives a lot. He’s been great.


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Cincinnati Reds – Pitching

Tonight’s Reds’ starter, Homer Bailey, was already having a nightmare season before the Cubs blew him up for 6 earned runs on seven hits and five walks in just 5.2 innings pitched last week. Now, his numbers look even worse.

But, I will point out that Bailey did strike out ten Cubs in that game, which is a ridiculous 37.0 K%. He got hit hard and often and was plenty wild, but ten strikeouts is a lot in 5.2 innings.

Sal Romano has made nine starts this season, but they haven’t gone well either (5.32 ERA). His biggest problem is a simple one: walking way too many (10.6%) and not striking out enough (17.8%). No matter what anything else looks like, those sort of K/BB numbers are going to be tough to pitch around.


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Cincinnati Reds – Offense

But remember, the Reds offense is potent. They have the sixth highest team wRC+ in the National League and Joey Votto is still a monster (165 wRC+).

In his four games against the Cubs last week, Votto piled on a .375/.500/.625 slash line which included twice as many walks (4) as strikeouts (2) and two extra bases. He’ll never be an easy out and the Cubs will just have to work around him.


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Michael Cerami

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