I’ve never been so sad to see the Cardinals leave town. Come back soon, sweeties (devilish smirk dot gif).
After sweeping the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs are staying put for seven more games at home. But, with the streaking Marlins coming and then the first place Rockies, these seven games won’t necessarily be easy.
After this homestand is over, the Cubs will play three against the Mets, take an off-day and play 23 more before the break. Of those 23 games, however, only five come against teams currently above .500 (four against the Nationals and a make-up game against the Brewers). To me, that means that there’s an actual, plausible reality wherein the Cubs make up enough ground to end the first half of the season right where you might’ve hoped they’d be before the year started.
It’ll take some luck and some individual turnarounds, but this stretch of the schedule could be easier than it’ll be all season. The wins are there for the taking.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (28-27) just swept the Cardinals after losing six straight to the Dodgers and Padres. They’re now back above .500 and in sole possession of second place in the NL Central. Further, they have the same number of losses as the Brewers, but have played in two fewer games.
The Miami Marlins (24-31) just wrapped up a three-game winning streak of their own, against the surprisingly solid Diamondbacks, and have actually been on fire lately, winning eight of their last ten. Wonderful timing.
Location: Wrigley Field
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, June 5 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
- Tuesday, June 6 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
- Wednesday, June 7 at 7:05 CT on WGN, 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.
- Eddie Butler (4.42 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 4.98 xFIP; 1.08 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (4.60 ERA, 4.02 FIP, 3.57 xFIP; 4.18 K/BB)
- John Lackey (4.90, 4.94 FIP, 3.96 xFIP; 3.14 K/BB)
- Ian Happ, CF
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Addison Russell/Javy Baez, SS
- Dan Straily (3.56 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 4.50 xFIP; 2.56 K/BB)
- Jeff Locke (1.52 ERA, 0.58 FIP, 1.50 xFIP; 7.00 K/BB)*
- Jose Urena (3.80 ERA, 5.46 FIP, 5.58 xFIP; 1.56 K/BB)
* One start in 2017.
- Dee Gordon, 2B
- Giancarlo Stanton, RF
- Christian Yelich, CF
- Marcell Ozuna, LF
- Justin Bour, 1B
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- Derek Dietrich, 3B
- J.T. Riddle, SS [Brett: Does the “T” stand for Tom? Watch out!]
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
Tonight’s Cubs’ starter, Eddie Butler, has not started his Cubs career the way anyone had hoped. Indeed, after a fine first outing against the Cardinals (6.0 IP, 2H, 3BB, 5K, 0 ER), he’s struggled mightily in every game since: 12.1 IP (3 starts) 14H, 10 BBs, 8K, 9 ER.
Butler continues to have tons of potential, but unfortunately, he’s getting hit very hard, walking way too many batters (15.7% BB-rate) and not striking out nearly enough (16.9% K-rate). At some point, the Cubs may have to reevaluate, but for now they’ll probably give him a few more games just to be absolutely sure/line up specific things to work on.
Fortunately, each of John Lackey (against the Cardinals) and Jake Arrieta (against the Padres) are coming off one of their best starts of the year. Hopefully, the Cubs manage to squeak one out tonight with Butler on the mound and then take advantage of back-to-back favorable match-ups on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Willson Contreras is still killing it since May 9: .304/.379/.554, Ian Happ hit two homers yesterday, and even Kyle Schwarber has looked better lately (135 wRC+ in his last five games), but let’s briefly talk about Jason Heyward.
Heyward continues to get as much hard contact as anyone on the Cubs, but is struggling to keep his overall season numbers above average. With that said, his season-long line drive rate and fly ball rates have finally just exceeded his career numbers, while his ground ball rate has fallen. Hopefully, then, as the weather warms up and the wind starts blowing out, more of those 100+ MPH blasts will start leaving the ball park. If you’re watching these games and paying attention to Heyward’s at-bats, you know it’s difficult to dislike what we’re seeing at the plate.
Good times are ahead for the Cubs right fielder. They just are.
Miami Marlins – Pitching
The Marlins pitching staff – or Edinson Volquez, rather – is the source of MLB’s first no-hitter this season:
Here it is! Edinson Volquez completes the no-hitter! The first in MLB this year. pic.twitter.com/9JMPiJnZip
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) June 3, 2017
But fortunately (or is it unfortunately, given after-effects?), the Cubs will not be facing Volquez this week.
Instead, they’ll get former Cub Dan Straily (who was traded to the Cubs as part of the Addison Russell deal in 2014, and then traded to the Astros (with Luis Valbuena) for Dexter Fowler before 2015), Jeff Locke, and Jose Urena.
Locke has made only one start this season, but it was a pretty good one against the Diamondbacks (we’ll talk more about that tomorrow), and Urena is one of just 19 pitchers in MLB with a negative fWAR this season.
On paper, the Cubs hitters shouldn’t be overmatched this week.
Miami Marlins – Offense
If you can believe it, Giancarlo Stanton is no longer the exit velocity king of MLB. That honor instead belongs to Aaron Judge, who owns five of the top ten highest exit velocities this season, including the top two overall. Giancarlo Stanton has just one spot on the top ten list, third overall.
But after an underwhelming 2016 campaign, Stanton appears to be back to his former self: .290/.362/.570 with 15 home runs. His 142 wRC+ is 14th best in the National League (damn the NL has some serious offense) and one click better than Kris Bryant. And he’s not even been the best hitter on his own team. Or second best!
Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour each sport a 151 wRC+, and five of the Marlins top six hitters are above average overall.
Their pitching staff may be one of the worst in baseball – the loss of Jose Fernandez this past offseason obviously hurt in that regard – but their offense has actually been pretty great (and certainly much better than the Cubs). Basically what I’m getting at is: don’t take these Marlins for granted.