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Series Preview: Mets at Cubs, September 12 – September 14, 2017

Series Previews

The Chicago Cubs have 19 games left this season, and eleven of those games are against the second-place St. Louis Cardinals (2.0 games back) and third-place Milwaukee Brewers (2.5 games back). Only three of those contests will be at home.


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But that’s all still in the future.

Starting tonight, the Cubs are hosting the New York Mets for three straight at Wrigley, and it’s #CubsSocial Media Night, to boot. Luis, Brett, and I will all be at the game (and at the pre-game #CubsSocial festivities), so I hope to see you there! But I hope the Cubs win more.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (77-66) were just swept by the Brewers. I don’t really feel like talking about it. For more on the playoff race, check out this morning’s Scoreboard Watching, and for more on the Cubs’ roughness, peep last night’s Off-Day Check-In.

The New York Mets (63-80) have had yet another rough year full of injuries, and this time it’s hurt their record. They’ve already been eliminated from winning the NL East and are close to losing a shot at the Wild Card, as well.


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Game Times and Broadcasts

Location: Wrigley Field

  • Tuesday, September 12 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, September 13 at 7:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, September 14 at 7:20 CT on ABC-7, 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:

  • Jose Quintana (4.32 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 3.88 xFIP; 3.05 K/BB) – L
  • Jon Lester (4.35 ERA, 3.98 FIP, 3.72 xFIP; 3.22 K/BB) – L
  • Mike Montgomery (3.64 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 4.41 xFIP; 1.73 K/BB) – L

Approximate Lineup*:

  1. Jon Jay, CF (or Ian Happ)
  2. Kyle Schwarber, LF (or Jon Jay)
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Ben Zobrist, 2B (or Tommy La Stella)
  6. Alex Avila, C (or Rene Rivera, or Willson Contreras)
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Javy Baez, SS (or Ben Zobrist, or Mike Freeman)
  9. Pitcher

*If you can’t tell, the Cubs lineup has been a bit of a mess lately.

New York Mets

Starters:

  • Robert Gsellman (5.44 ERA, 4.97 FIP, 4.72 xFIP; 2.03 K/BB) – R
  • Matt Harvey (5.82 ERA, 6.10 FIP, 5.14 xFIP; 1.61 K/BB) – R
  • Seth Lugo (4.64 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 4.40 xFIP; 2.91 K/BB) – R

Approximate Lineup:

  1. Jose Reyes, 2B
  2. Nori Aoki, RF
  3. Brandon Nimmo, LF
  4. Juan Lagares, CF
  5. Travis d’Arnaud, C
  6. Dominic Smith, 1B
  7. Amed Rosario, SS
  8. Matt Reynolds, 3B
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Cubs – Pitching

Jose Quintana has pitched 6.0 full innings in each of his last two starts, while allowing a combined three earned runs. Better yet, he’s struck out 15 batters during that stretch while walking just 1 and allowing only 10 hits. That’s pretty great.


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He’ll also want to keep the groundball rate up against the Mets, which hasn’t been easy:

Jon Lester’s latest start yielded great results (6.0 IP, 1ER), but he walked four batters in that one, which is tied for his second most walks in a start on the season. Hopefully, we see a little more control tomorrow and another dominant, ramp up performance from the presumed (and, now, hopeful) game one starter of a playoff series.


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Chicago Cubs – Offense

Since the beginning of August, Ian Happ has been brilliant at the plate: .277/.352/.574 (130 wRC+). He’s struck out a lot during that stretch (32.4%), but eight homers, four doubles, and 21 RBI with a 10.2% walk rate and .298 ISO is hard to argue against.

He’s been slightly less good since the beginning of September (115 wRC+), particularly in the power department (.185 ISO, .481 SLG), but he’s still walking a fair amount and hitting for plenty of average (thanks in large part to a .438 BABIP). With as many fly balls and as much hard contact as Happ makes, though, I suspect that power will shoot back up quickly.

New York Mets – Pitching

The Cubs will get Matt Harvey tomorrow, and he’s made just two starts since returning from the disabled list at the beginning of September.


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So far, he’s not been great (11.57 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 10.8 K%), but he’s not walked many (2.7 BB%) and has been hurt by a small sample .414 BABIP and 48% strand rate. Given that he’s actually gotten a better than average batted ball profile during those two starts, I think it’s fair to say he was legitimately a bit unlucky in those starts.

Obviously, his struggles and injuries have been well-documented, but I remain forever uneasy when facing a former ace. Those guys ALWAYS seem to find a way to turn it back up to 11 every now and then. It’s just a risk.

New York Mets – Offense

Here’s where things get not fun.

Check out this ridiculously good offensive production from a trio of Mets over the past two weeks:

Asdrubal Cabrera: 184 wRC+
Jose Reyes: 167 wRC+
Brandon Nimmo: 155 wRC+

This group has been walking a ton and hitting for a lot of power, just in time to meet the Cubs at Wrigley Field. On top of that, the Cubs are sending out three straight lefties this week, while Cabrera and Reyes have both been MUCH better against southpaws than righties this season.

Nimmo, a lefty himself, has not been quite as good against lefties, of course, but overall, you don’t love that two of the Mets’ hottest hitters, who happen to be at their best against lefties, will see three lefties in a row.


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Let’s see what happens. The Cubs really need to take two of these three games. You know it.


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Michael Cerami

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