Today, the Cubs will have a chance to finish the first half of the season the way they started it: with Jon Lester on the mound and an expectation of finishing in first place. Indeed, the Cubs have won two in a row and are looking to finish the first half with a three-game sweep over the Padres just as the Brewers have lost five straight and are trying to avoid an abruptly terrible end to an otherwise solid first half.
If everything breaks the Cubs way today, they could wind up 2.5 game up in the NL Central, but even if the Brewers win and the Cubs lose, the Cubs will have a half-game clearance. They’re finishing the first half in first place no matter what. And that feels good.
As for today’s game, Lester is trotting back out to the mound for the 19th time this season and is coming off a 6.1 IP, 4ER performance against the Reds. That start wasn’t Lester’s worst of the season, but he did walk more than he struck out and while 6.1 IP is nice, 4 ER is a bit more than you’d like to see. His ERA remains nearly two full runs lower than his FIP, but hopefully he can keep getting the results the rest of the way.
Starting opposite Lester is the 23-year-old left-hander Eric Lauer. Lauer is at the very beginning of his big league career, and today will be just his 16th big league start. But while the results might look mostly OK (4.40 ERA), his peripherals are JUICY. Lauer has struck out just 18.7% of the batters he’s faced this season, which means he allows a lot of balls in play. And that’s not particularly good for him, considering the tiny 36.4% ground ball rate and massive 41.1% hard-hit rate. And, with a 9.1% walk rate, he’s not really even a command guy, so the Cubs should have a pretty steady advantage today. I suppose we’ll see.
Finish strong, Cubs. A win today would be a great end to a great first half.
Chicago Cubs (54-38) at San Diego Padres (40-58) – WGN, 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.
- The Series Preview lives here.
- The Lineup Discussion lives here.
Cubs: Jon Lester (L): 3.93 ERA, 4.55 FIP; 2.58 K/BB
Padres: Eric Lauer (L): 7.09 ERA, 4.14 FIP; 1.25 K/BB
San Diego Padres:
- Manuel Margot, CF
- Wil Myers, LF
- Hunter Renfroe, RF
- Eric Hosmer, 1B
- Christian Villanueva, 3B
- Jose Pirela, 2B
- Freddy Galvis, SS
- Austin Hedges, C
- Eric Lauer, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, RF
- Jason Heyward, CF
- Javy Baez, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Ben Zobrist, LF
- Willson Contreras, C
- David Bote, 3B
- Jon Lester, P