Series Preview: Mariners at Cubs, July 29 – July 31, 2016

mariners logo

The Cubs just swept the Sox! Er, they split their series with the Sox! Uh, they failed to secure the Crosstown Cup ….

Whichever headline you prefer, the Cubs finish their four game matchup against the White Sox with two loses (at U.S. Cellular) and two wins (at Wrigley Field).

They’ll now finish the extended Chicagoland-area portion of the schedule with three more games at Wrigley Field against the Mariners and another three against the Marlins.

Following that, there’s an off-day, before the Cubs head out to Oakland, to take on the A’s for three games, bookended by another off-day. Fortunately, the Cubs have another 10 game homestand after that A’s series, with another off-day sprinkled in. Hopefully they can continue to take advantage of sleeping in their own beds, playing in their own parks, multiple days without baseball, and traveling very little.

We’re Going Streaking

To be fair, the Chicago Cubs (61-40) have done quite well out of the break. At 8-5 since returning, they’ve won two series against contenders (Rangers, Mets), one series against the Brewers, and then split a four-game match-up against the Sox. Could it have been better? Sure. I’d argue that one more win against the Sox and we’re all in La La Land again, but 8 out of 13 is a .615 winning percentage, a number greater than the Cubs current winning percentage (.604).

The Seattle Mariners (51-49) just wrapped up a two-game series split with the Pirates in Pittsburgh, after taking back-to-back series against the Blue Jays and White Sox. In July, the Mariners are a game over .500 (11-10).

[adinserter block=”1″]

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, July 29 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, MLBN (out-of-market only), 670 The Score
  • Saturday, July 30 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, July 31 at 1:20 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Expected Starters and Lineups

    These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

    Chicago Cubs

    Starters:

  • Jon Lester (4.99 ERA, 5.26 FIP, 4.86 xFIP; 1.69 K/BB)
  • Jake Arrieta (2.60 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 3.33 xFIP; 2.93 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (2.27 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 3.77 xFIP; 3.20 K/BB)
  • Approximate Lineup:

    1. Dexter Fowler, CF
    2. Kris Bryant, 3B (or LF)
    3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
    4. Ben Zobrist, LF (or 2B)
    5. Willson Contreras, C
    6. Jason Heyward, RF
    7. Javy Baez, 2B (OR 3B)
    8. Addison Russell, SS
    9. Pitcher/DH

    [adinserter block=”2″]

    Seattle Mariners

    Starters:

  • Hisashi Iwakuma (3.96 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 4.49 xFIP; 3.03 K/BB)
  • Wade Miley (5.23 ERA, 5.01 FIP, 4.52 xFIP; 2.21 K/BB)
  • Felix Hernandez (3.45 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 4.38 xFIP; 2.00 K/BB)
  • Approximate Lineup:

    1. Nori Aoki, LF
    2. Seth Smith, RF
    3. Robinson Cano, 2B
    4. Kyle Seager, 3B
    5. Adam Lind, 1B
    6. Leonys Martin, CF
    7. Mike Zunino, C
    8. Shawn O’ Malley, SS
    9. Pitcher

    Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

    Chicago Cubs – Pitching

    The Cubs will send up their three (currently) best performing pitchers in this series, with Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks set to take the mound. Although, to be fair, the entire rotation has been nails since the return from the break. In their 13 games back (80.2 IP), Cubs starters have combined for a 2.79 ERA, a .190 average against, a 8.1% walk rate and a 23.8% K-rate. That’ll take them a long way, if they can keep it up.

    You may be inclined to point out the four runs Arrieta allowed against the Sox as evidence of bad performance, but 1. I think Arrieta looked mostly great that game, save for that one bad pitch and 2. You can’t shy away from challenging a .210 hitter (Todd Frazier) just because there’s like, what, a 6% chance he’ll take you deep. Sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean Arrieta was wrong to try.

    Let’s talk about Aroldis Chapman, because it’s pretty fun (full dive here). In his 2.1 innings of work as a Chicago Cub, Chapman has faced the minimum number of batters (7), while striking out four of them and walking none. When the samples are this small, the statistics are mostly meaningless, but I thought it would be fun to point out that he has a negative FIP with the Cubs (-0.29). He’s good at the baseball.

    Chicago Cubs – Offense

    This portion of the Series Preview has turned into our bi-weekly Javy Baez check-up, but what can I say? He’s hotter than Hansel right now. So let’s see how our old friend is doing. [Brett: Googles “Hotter than Hansel,” sees the result, slaps forehead.]

    Oh, he’s doing great. You know there was a time not too long ago that I’d shorten the sample of his season, to show you how well he had actually been doing over the past few weeks. But now, there’s no need. Over his entire season (270 plate appearances), Baez is slashing .287/.330/.472 (.343 wOBA, 113 wRC+) with just a 22.6% strike out rate. He’s not just an average offensive contributor, he’s not just an above average overall player, because of his defense; Javy Baez is a legitimately GREAT Chicago Cub. And he’s just 23 years old!

    Throw in 9 stolen bases and 11 home runs, and damn, this guy is legit. But just for fun, because you know it’s going to be fun, let’s take a look at his performance in a smaller, more recent stretch. Since June 17th (129 plate appearances), Baez is slashing .328/.380/.546. That’s a .393 wOBA (!) and a .147 wRC+ (!). Put differently, Baez has been about 47% better than the average hitter for a month a half. Who is this kid?

    Now let’s talk about Jason Heyward and his three-part July. In the first third of July, Heyward started out hot as all hell (.343/.425/.486 in first 40 PAs). In his next 28 plate appearances, though, he got ice cold (.040/.143/.040). And now, in his most recent chunk (21 plate appearances), Heyward has landed somewhere in the middle (.200/.238/.250). It hasn’t been a nice season at the plate, but there’s still reason to believe he can turn it around in the second half. He just needs to try not to suck, a bit more.

    Lastly, let’s check in on Miguel Montero, the forgotten catcher. Montero hasn’t had a fully healthy or productive season overall, having slashed just .198/.327/.327 in his 56 games, but he’s been a bit better recently. In his last five games, for example, he’s slashed .286/.444/.357, thanks to an incredibly unusual 22.2% walk rate and 5.6% strikeout rate. That all ads up to a .369 wOBA and a 131 wRC+. You should note, as well, that he has been starting much more frequently over this stretch. Perhaps the consistent playing time has been the reason for the surge.

    [adinserter block=”3″]

    Seattle Mariners  – Pitching

    On Sunday, the Cubs will have a fun match-up, when they send Kyle Hendricks to the mound against Felix Hernandez. Hernandez has been battling injuries this season, and has made only 12 starts (75.2 IP) overall. During that stretch, which came mostly at the beginning of the season, Hernandez has a 3.45 ERA, but far worse peripherals (4.54 FIP, 4.38 xFIP). Most of the difference there can be easily explained by his stark drop in strikeouts (17.9% in 2016, 23.0% for his career). He had never been a huge K-guy, but anything below 20.0% does not leave a lot of room for error.

    In his two starts since returning from the DL, King Felix has gone 12.2 innings, allowing 9 earned runs (6.39 ERA), on 19 hits (including 3 homers) just 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. Even when their struggling, though, former aces are always pitchers to be cautious of; a gem is always just around the corner.

    Seattle Mariners – Offense

    Surprisingly, the Mariners have been one of the best offensive teams in all of baseball this season. Collectively, their batters are slashing .260/.328/.438, which is good for a 109 wRC+, second best in all of baseball. If it weren’t for their terrible defense (at least, according to the advanced metrics) they would have had one of the most valuable group of position players in baseball. Of course, defense counts!

    Still, there is plenty of fire power in the lineup. Check out their three biggest offensive contributors:

  • Robinson Cano: .301/.360/.528, 22 HRs; 141 wRC+
  • Kyle Seager: .287/.363/.532, 20 HR; 140 wRC+
  • Nelson Cruz: .285/.370/.540, 25 HRs; 146 wRC+
  • There will not be a lot of breathing room for Cubs pitchers.

    written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

    more cubs news

    The Cubs Walk It Off on a Weird Play at the Plate!

    Whew. That game was kinda dumb, but I tell you, the ending sure was fun. And also weird! So, to set the stage, the Pirates and Cubs' offenses could do nothing all day long. The game was still 0-0 in...

    Brennen Davis FREAKING DID IT AGAIN! AND THEN HE DID IT AGAIN AFTER THAT!

    This guy. What do I even say? I was already kinda buzzy when Brennen Davis homered again - a grand slam - for the fifth time in six games, and sixth time in eight games. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. https://twitter.com/IowaCubs/status/1791967453888598441 Truly...

    Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 1, Pirates 0 – May 18, 2024

    What matters most is that the Cubs won the game. And it was a fun ending, too. So I'm happy. But I also do feel a little frustrated - or concerned might be the better word - as I'm sure...

    Pre-Gamin’: Pirates at Cubs (1:20 CT) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    CUBS LINEUP — Losing to the Braves (and then Jared Jones and Paul Skenes), when you have 10 people on the IL, including your entire middle infield, is not really that concerning to me. It sucks and banking losses is...

    REPORT: Cubs Trade Richard Lovelady to the Rays

    When the Chicago Cubs traded Jake Slaughter to the Seattle Mariners for reliever Tyson Miller, they needed to open a spot on both the active roster and the 40-man roster. They did that in one move by designating reliever Richard...

    Cubs Set a Target Date for Dansby Swanson’s Return, Daniel Palencia Also On His Way

    First, a quick update I kept out of the headline: Nico Hoerner is not in the Cubs lineup today, as he continues to deal with left hamstring tightness. The Cubs have now blown past the maximum IL backdate optimization, which...

    Hendricks Will Get More Chances, Many Injury Updates, A Possible New Scandal, and Other Cubs Bullets

    Sports Saturday around the Taylor household, so it's time to run all over to soccer fields and baseball fields and dance centers. First, Cubs Bullets ... Kyle Hendricks may not have made a load of terrible pitches in yesterday's game...

    Enhanced Box Score: Pirates 9, Cubs 3 – May 17, 2024

    For six hitless, profoundly dominant innings, Paul Skenes today looked like the best pitching prospect I've seen since maybe Stephen Strasburg. The other two who came to mind as I watched were Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez. Those three, when...

    MLBits: Elly De La Cruz Continues to Electrify, Yanks Want Soto for Long Haul, More

    Elly De La Cruz continues to dazzle and the Yankees want Juan Soto in New York for the rest of his career. That and more in today's MLB Notes! Elly De La Cruz's Four Steal Night Cincinnati Reds shortstop Elly...

    Cubs Farm Report | May 17, 2024: I-Cubs’ Homer Party Helps Cade Horton Get His First Triple-A Win

    The Iowa Cubs mashed four home runs and scored 10 runs, as Cade Horton made his best start at Triple-A on Thursday. That and more in today's Cubs Farm Report. Cubs Farm Report | May 17, 2024 Triple-A Iowa Cubs...

    Latest News

    Washington Mystics vs. Seattle Storm: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Washington Mystics (0-2) take the court against the Seattle Storm (0-2) on Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 3:00 PM ET on Monumental, FOX13+, and Prime Video.Watch the WNBA all season long on Fubo!How to Watch Mystics vs. StormGame Day:...

    Mystics vs Storm Prediction: Picks, Live Odds & Moneyline – May 19

    The Seattle Storm (0-2) face the Washington Mystics (0-2) at St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena on Sunday, May 19, 2024. The game tips at 3:00 PM ET on Monumental, FOX13+, and Prime Video.Mystics vs. Storm Prediction & OddsFavorite:...

    Dodgers vs. Reds: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Los Angeles Dodgers (31-17), led by Mookie Betts, host Elly De La Cruz and the Cincinnati Reds (19-27) at 4:10 PM ET on Sunday.Keep scrolling to find out all the details on how to watch Los Angeles take on...

    How to Watch Diamondbacks vs. Tigers: Live Stream or on TV

    On Sunday, aiming to prevent a series sweep, Jordan Montgomery takes the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks (21-25) versus Matt Manning and the Detroit Tigers (23-22), with first pitch scheduled for 4:10 PM ET.If you're planning on watching this game,...

    Red Sox vs. Cardinals: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Boston Red Sox (22-24), with Nick Pivetta on the mound, visit the St. Louis Cardinals (20-25) who will hand the ball to Matthew Liberatore, at 1:05 PM ET on Sunday.The article below will provide you with everything you need...

    Royals vs. Athletics: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Kansas City Royals (28-19), led by Bobby Witt Jr. and looking for a series sweep, host the Oakland Athletics (19-29) at 2:10 PM ET on Sunday.Keep reading to find out how to watch the Kansas City-Oakland matchup below.When is...

    Astros vs. Brewers: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    On Sunday, Spencer Arrighetti will start for the Houston Astros (20-26) versus Colin Rea and the Milwaukee Brewers (27-18), with first pitch scheduled for 2:10 PM ET at Minute Maid Park.The article below will provide you with everything you need...

    How to Watch Rangers vs. Angels: Live Stream or on TV

    The Texas Rangers (24-23), led by Marcus Semien, host Taylor Ward and the Los Angeles Angels (17-29) at 2:35 PM ET on Sunday in the rubber match of the series.Find out how to watch the Texas-Los Angeles matchup below.When is...

    How to Watch Phillies vs. Nationals: Live Stream or on TV

    The Philadelphia Phillies (33-14), led by Alec Bohm, host C.J. Abrams and the Washington Nationals (20-24) on Sunday at 1:35 PM ET.Keep scrolling to find out all the details on how to watch Philadelphia take on Washington live.When is Phillies...

    How to Watch Orioles vs. Mariners: Live Stream or on TV

    Gunnar Henderson and the Baltimore Orioles (28-15) host Caleb Raleigh and the Seattle Mariners (25-21) on Sunday, with first pitch at 1:35 PM ET.If you're trying to watch this game, keep reading for TV and streaming options for the Baltimore-Seattle...

    more cubs news