Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, May 18 - May 20, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, May 18 – May 20, 2018

Chicago Cubs

Although the Cubs dropped just two of the three games they played against the Braves this week, it sure felt like a series sweep thanks to the lack of run-scoring and the fact that their only win was a straight-up steal. And even though the rain out helps the roster/bullpen/rotation a bit, I still wish the game happened and the Cubs had a chance to ride into Cincinnati with some momentum (for us, if not for them). Alas, they’ll just play a million games in a row at the end of the season when the stakes are higher and everyone’s tired.

And of course they’re getting the Reds just when they’ve started playing really well. Hopefully, the Cubs treat them like the perpetually rebuilding squad they are and get back on top of the NL Central as soon as possible.

Note: There’s a double-header on Saturday, so get ready for a weekend loaded with baseball.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (22-18) bounced out of their five-game losing streak with a cool five wins against the Marlins and White Sox, but sorta fell back down to Earth against the Braves, dropping two of three and not looking great in the process. They’re current six for their last ten and 2.5 games out of first (though, to be fair, they’ve played a fewer games than the teams ahead of them in the standings).

The Cincinnati Reds (15-29) had a little fun last weekend, sweeping the Dodgers over four in Los Angeles, but they promptly lost their first two against the Giants before winning the finale and taking an off-day yesterday. They’re currently seven for their last ten and 11.5 games out of first.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Friday, May 18 at 6:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, May 19 at 12:10 on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, May 19 at 6:10 on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, May 20 at 12:10 on ABC-7, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jon Lester (2.66 ERA, 4.55 FIP; 1.80 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (3.20 ERA, 4.60 FIP; 4.22 K/BB)
  • Jose Quintana (5.23 ERA, 5.03 FIP; 1.81 K/BB)
  • Yu Darvish (5.56 ERA, 5.11 FIP; 2.33 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Javy Baez
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Addison Russell
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber/Ben Zobrist
  • CF – Albert Almora/Ian Happ
  • RF – Ben Zobrist*

*Jason Heyward is on the 7-day concussion DL

Cincinnati Reds

Probable Pitchers:

  • Homer Bailey (5.59 ERA, 6.16 FIP; 5.26 K/BB)
  • TBA (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB)
  • TBA (0.00 ERA, 0.00 FIP; 0.00 K/BB) [Brett, a dad: Man, that TBA guy is getting incredibly lucky on balls in play!]
  • Tyler Mahle (4.34 ERA, 5.01 FIP; 2.88 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Tucker Barnhart
  • 1B – Joey Votto
  • 2B – Scooter Gennett
  • 3B – Eugenio Suarez
  • SS – Jose Peraza
  • LF – Adam Duvall
  • CF – Billy Hamilton
  • RF – Scott Schebler

Keep an Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Mike Montgomery’s 67.6% ground ball rate is the third highest among all qualified relievers in baseball this season (he’s followed by Eddie Butler, who, yes, still qualifies with 14.2 IP, even though he’s been out for nearly a month with a groin injury), but he’s been worth -0.1 WAR, because he’s striking out just 10.2% of the batters he’s faced. He wasn’t a strikeout machine last year (18.5 K%), but 10.2% is FAR too low. He’ll have to start missing some bats if he wants to get more high-leverage innings. In the meantime, he’s gotta keep generating soft contact and is somewhat at the mercy of BABIP.

Cubs Player: Willson Contreras has been among the top 15 hitter in baseball this month, with a 182 wRC+. Most impressive? His 11.5% walk rate is only just barely behind his 13.5% strikeout rate. Even crazier? His .306 BABIP in May is actually lower than his career average, and that’s despite the fact that he has a tiny 12.8% soft-hit rate in May. He’s got great results, and, if anything, has been unlucky. 

Reds Have Two Pitchers (Jared Hughes and Amir Garret): with exactly 25.2 innings pitched, 1.40 ERAs and 2.75 FIPs. That’s weird. Also weird: the Reds have four(!) qualified relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs. So … hope for an early lead.

Reds Player: Billy Hamilton is finally doing it! He’s got a 12.0% walk rate! Now he can steal all the time … Oh. His OBP is still just .307, despite a BABIP of .302. Never mind. He’ll still get on against Jon Lester and steal a base (or three) tonight, but whatever. Until he gets on with some consistency, who cares? Unless the Reds win 1-0, which, hey, that ain’t on Lester …

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami