WE ARE BACK.
Wow. I can’t believe how much I missed baseball and it’s been just five days since the Cubs limped into the All-Star break two games below .500. But today, they are back and beginning a three game set against their biggest rivals, the … Baltimore Orioles? Eh, who cares, baseball is baseball, and I cannot wait.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (43-45) are not streaking. They’re not two games under .500. They’re starting a whole new season today, and the only difference is they’re giving the Brewers a head start on the division. Things can change quickly, and my bet is that it’s in the Cubs’ favor.
The Baltimore Orioles (42-46) have one more loss and one less win than the Cubs and are 7.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. Unlike the Cubs, though, they’re in fourth place of their division and behind a couple of pretty good teams.
Location: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Friday, July 14 at 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
- Saturday, July 15 at 6:05 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score
- Sunday, July 16 at 12:35 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.
- Mike Montgomery (3.75 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 4.31 xFIP; 1.66 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (4.35 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 3.98 xFIP; 2.91 K/BB)
- Jose Quintana (4.49 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 4.13 xFIP; 2.73 K/BB)
- Jose Quintana, 2B
- Jose Quintana, 3B
- Jose Quintana, 1B
- Jose Quintana, CF
- Jose Quintana, LF
- Jose Quintana, C
- Jose Quintana, RF
- Jose Quintana, SS
- Kris Bryant, DH
- Kevin Gausman (5.85 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 4.90 xFIP; 1.93 K/BB)
- Wade Miley (4.97 ERA, 5.04 FIP, 4.52 xFIP; 1.57 K/BB)
- Ubaldo Jimenez (6.67 ERA, 5.96 FIP, 4.97 xFIP; 1.71 K/BB)
- Seth Smith, RF
- Manny Machado, 3B
- Jonathan Schoop, 2B
- Adam Jones, CF
- Mark Trumbo, DH
- Trey Mancini, 1B
- Welington Castillo, C
- Hyun Soo Kim, LF
- Ruben Tejada, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
The Chicago Cubs are sending three pitchers to the mound this weekend who could very well be the three most important pieces to the Cubs’ second-half success.
If Mike Montgomery can continue to look like a legitimate back of the rotation arm, the Cubs will have shored up their rotation in a very big way. If Jake Arrieta can continue a recent stretch of really solid starts (3.49 ERA in his last ten), then there’s a ton of upside (vis a vis the first half). And as far as Jose Quintana goes, all he has to do is be the guy he has been for the last four and half seasons and the Cubs will be more than fine.
And in case you missed it, we dug in deep on Quintana’s past earlier this week.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
Don’t look now, but Kyle Schwarber’s got a 132 wRC+ in his past 60 plate appearances dating back to just before his brief stint in Triple-A Iowa.
And in the four games he’s played in since returning? Well, it’s even better: .286/.375/.643 with two doubles, a homer and two walks in just 16 plate appearances … yeah, that’ll do just fine.
I really thought that, by now, I’d be talking about Ian Happ coming back down to Earth, but in his last 99 plate appearances, he’s done nothing but hit: .304/.340/.576 (134 wRC+). Shorten that to the month of July and, not unlike Kyle Schwarber, things get even better: .290/.353/.677 with a double, a triple, and three home runs in 34 plate appearances. He’s just not slowing down.
Baltimore Orioles – Pitching
Ubaldo Jimenez feels like one of those guys who’s been around forever, doesn’t he? In reality, his first full season wasn’t until 2008 (though he debuted back in 2006). He was an All-Star just once in his career (2010), though he also finished in the top three among NL Cy Young Award voting that year.
He’s not having much success this year (6.67 ERA), though, and has been particularly susceptible to the walks (11.2 BB%). So if the Cubs want to help Jose Quintana get his first Cubs “W” on Sunday, they’ll be best served by patience.
Baltimore Orioles- Offense
Future-Cub Manny Machado isn’t having his best season at the plate this year (.230/.296/.445, 90 wRC+), after posting really fantastic numbers in each of the two previous seasons (134 wRC+ and 129 wRC+). However, he’s been turning things around lately. Yay.
Heading into the break, Machado dragged a six-game hitting streak. And during that stretch he’s slashing .407/.429/.704 (200 wRC+). As a 25-year-old with three All-Star appearances and three top ten finishes in the AL MVP vote … I wouldn’t bet against him for too long. Don’t let him beat you, Cubs.