Series Preview: Cubs at Mets, May 31 - June 3, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Mets, May 31 – June 3, 2018

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are heading to The Big Apple to take on the New York Mets in their home ballpark this week. And it’s another four-game series, so buckle up for a weekend full of baseball.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (29-23) just won a series against the Pirates after winning a series against the Giants. They dropped two in a row to the Indians, but took 3 of 4 from the Reds before that. Frankly, it’s been a pretty solid stretch for the Cubs, who keep chipping away. If they can weather these injuries and get Yu Darvish/Carl Edwards back soon, I think they’ll be just fine.

The New York Mets (27-26) just split a four-gamer in Atlanta after dropping three of four to the Brewers in Milwaukee and two of three to the Marlins at home. Their 4-7 stretch has really slowed their hot start and now a series of injuries (more below) could slow them further.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Thursday, May 31 at 6:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Friday, June 1 at 6:10 on NBC Sports Chicago+, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, June 2 at 6:15 on FOX, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, June 3 at 12:10 on ABC-7, MLBN (out-of-market only), 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jose Quintana (4.78 ERA, 4.69 FIP, 1.89 K/BB)
  • Tyler Chatwood (4.10 ERA, 4.75 FIP; 0.98 K/BB)
  • Mike Montgomery* (4.35 ERA, 3.73 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (2.71 ERA, 4.29 FIP; 2.45 K/BB)

*Probably

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 – Jason Heyward/Ben Zobrist

Unavailable: Eddie Butler, Yu Darvish, Carl Edwards Jr.

New York Mets

Probable Pitchers:

  • Seth Lugo (2.48 ERA, 3.24 FIP; 3.48 K/BB)*
  • Zack Wheeler (5.40 ERA, 4.02 FIP; 2.79 K/BB)
  • Jacob deGrom (1.52 ERA, 2.12 FIP; 4.47 K/BB)
  • TBD

*No starts yet this season – 32.2 IP out of the bullpen.

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Devin Mesoraco
  • 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
  • 2B – Asdrubal Cabrera
  • 3B – Jose Reyes
  • SS – Amed Rosario
  • LF – Brandon Nimmo
  • CF – Michael Conforto
  • RF – Jay Bruce

Unavailable: Yoenis Cespedes, Wilmer Flores, Todd Frazier, AJ Ramos, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, T.J. Rivera, Anthony Swarzak, David Wright.

Keep an Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Jon Lester. I don’t want to keep harping on Lester, but I’m still just very interested to see in which direction his season is heading. More specifically, will the rest of 2018 follow his results (which have been more or less excellent) or his peripherals (which have been more mediocre). There’s definitely reason to believe he can outperform his peripherals (he has before and he usually gets by on weak contact and ground balls), but that’s never a good bet. On the other hand, he’s walked just two batters over his past three starts while striking out 18, so the peripherals actually are coming around too. I don’t think we’ll definitively know what will happen for Lester after his next start, but it’ll still be an important one to watch.

Cubs Player: Jason Heyward. We talked about him in greater detail earlier in the week, but a few other arbitrary cut-offs provide some fun: Since April 17 (91 PAs), Heyward has a 115 wRC+. That’s a nice long stretch at a level we’d all LOVE to see. But it gets more fun than that when you shrink the sample size (and, thus, believability) even further. For example, since May 5th (his last 43 PAs), Heyward has slashed .342/.395/.474 with a 9.3% walk rate and a 2.3% strikeout rate. Better, his soft-hit rate during that stretch is a puny 10.5% and his hard-hit rate is 39.5%. That’s just good-old-fashioned hitting the ball hard and not striking out. If he was anywhere close to this guy over a full season … oh never mind. Just keep hitting, Heyward, and we’ll leave you alone.

Mets Pitcher: Jacob deGrom has been a monster this season, working with a 32.8% strikeout rate and a 7.3% walk rate. At the same time, he’s inducing elite levels of soft contact (25.7%) while allowing almost no hard contact relatively speaking (24.3%). It’s rare to have a pitcher excel at both the K/BB and contact management arena, but deGrom is doing it. He’s very, very good.

Mets Player: Asdrubal Cabrera has been the best Mets player this season, as his 1.9 WAR ranks 16th best in baseball. Over his past eight games, he’s had a weird stretch where he hasn’t walked at all, but does have ten hits including three homers for a strange .294/.294/.588 slash line. As a switch-hitter, Cabrera gets the platoon advantage no matter whom he faces (and he hits both sides well), however lefties have handled him better than righties this season, and he’ll see three this weekend (Mike Montgomery, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana).



Author: Michael Cerami

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