Despite strolling into first place with a win over the White Sox last night, the Cubs are really grinding right now. Anyone watching these games can tell you that.
But it’s weird: I’m not particularly unhappy with the team. For the most part, I think the Cubs starting rotation and rotation depth (Tyler Chatwood, Mike Montgomery) is pretty great. I think the offense has four All-Stars (Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo) plus some excellent complementary, but everyday, pieces like Kyle Schwarber and David Bote, and I think the bullpen is finally shaping up with the return of Pedro Strop, the #return of Carl Edwards Jr., and the signing of Craig Kimbrel.
And we’re even getting the actual debut of a legitimate starting pitching prospect, Adbert Alzolay, signed and developed by the Cubs(!), from start to finish later tonight! By all counts this team looks the way I want it to look on paper. I guess it’s just frustrating when they don’t have the sort of real-life divisional lead that matches the talent.
Let’s hope that changes this week, when they host the struggling New York
Yankees *shuffles papers, clears throat* Mets. Apparently, New York has gotten a second team and that’s whom the Cubs will host this weekend. All right. Winning streak time. Go Cubs.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (40-33) just joined the 40-win club last night (only 3 other teams in the NL can claim that today), but have been grinding to a near-halt … as they entered first place (#baseballisweird). They’re just 4-6 in their past ten contests and can’t seem to gain any traction.
The New York Mets (35-39) just dropped two out of three in a series against the Braves, and managed to lose 3 games out of 4 to the Cardinals before that. They’re four games under .500, and 8.5 games out of first in the East.
Game Times and Broadcasts Info
- Thursday, June 20th at 7:05 CT on WGN, MLBN, 670 The Score
- Friday, June 21st at 1:20 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
- Saturday, June 22nd at at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, MLBN, 670 The Score
- Sunday, June 23rd at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score
Game 1: Tyler Chatwood (Adbert Alzolay) v. Walker Lockett (R)
Game 2: Yu Darvish (R) v. Jason Vargas (L)
Game 3: Jose Quintana (L) v. Zach Wheeler (R)
Game 4: Cole Hamels (L) v. Jacob deGrom (R)
- C – Willson Contreras
- 1B – Anthony Rizzo
- 2B – David Bote/Addison Russell
- 3B – Kris Bryant
- SS – Javy Baez
- LF – Kyle Schwarber
- CF – Jason Heyward/Albert Almora
- RF – Carlos Gonzalez/Jason Heyward
Unavailable: Xavier Cedeno, Carl Edwards Jr., Kyle Hendricks, Allen Webster, Tony Barnette, Brandon Morrow, Ben Zobrist, Craig Kimbrel (eeeeeeeeek!)
New York Mets
- C – Wilson Ramos
- 1B – Peter Alonso
- 2B – Robinson Cano
- 3B – Todd Frazier
- SS – Amed Rosario
- LF – Jeff McNeil
- CF -Carlos Gomez
- RF – Michael Conforto
Unavailable: Luis Avilan, Jeurys Familia, Brandon Nimmo, Noah Sundergaard, Justin Wilson, Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, Drew Smith
Keep An Eye Out For …
Cubs Pitcher: Tyler Chatwood. I know all eyes will be on Adbert Alzolay tonight, but (1) we’ll have more on him later today and (2) Chatwood is going first. And remember, he had a REALLY great start earlier this year against the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field: 6.0 IP, 2H, 0ER, 2BB, 3Ks. I’m dying to see what Alzolay can do as much as the next guy, but I’m way more interested in the Cubs winning. Chatwood may be on a limited pitch count, but he managed to go 6.0 innings last time with just 71 pitches, so … yeah. Let’s do that again.
Cubs Player: Kyle Schwarber has been great lately, but in a way we’re not entirely used to seeing. In his last 147 plate appearances, he’s slashing .250/.320/.594, which is showing some improved contact/average and a TON of power but less apparent on-base skills. And it’s even more pronounced over his last 63 plate appearances: .300/.317/.683 (150 wRC+). I know you want to see your leadoff man get on base at greater than a .315-.330 clip, but man … I’ll take that .600+ slugging and overall production a million times out of a million.
Mets Pitcher: The Cubs will face Jacob deGrom on the last day of this series, which means it’s very important to get out to an early lead if you’re hoping to win the series. No, he hasn’t been as good this season as he was last year, but he’s still among the best pitchers in baseball with plenty of scary (for Cubs hitters) peripherals like a 30.1% strikeout rate and 5.4% walk rate. The Cubs would be wise to lock down at least two wins in these first three games.
Mets Player: Peter Alonso has been the best offensive Met this season, with a 153 wRC+ that ranks among the top-10 in MLB and ahead of all Cubs hitters. Although he’s been good against all types of pitchers, righties have done better against him than lefties, so let’s hope Cole Hamels and Jose Quintana are prepared for the challenge at the back-half of this series.