Series Previews: Cubs at Royals, August 6 - August 8, 2018

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Series Previews: Cubs at Royals, August 6 – August 8, 2018

Chicago Cubs

I decided to roll with a new image for the Series Preview today, but maybe just for this one post – I felt like we could all use a little reset/change-of-pace after splitting a very winnable four-game set against one of the worst teams in baseball at home. And that’s especially true now that the Cubs are about to face another one of the worst teams in baseball on the road. Something just hand to change, as we continue on through the dog days of the summer.

So the Cubs are heading to Kansas City to take on the Royals this week before hitting an off-day on Thursday. They’ll face the Nationals, Brewers, and Pirates immediately after that, so they’d be wise to take advantage of these next four days – three wins and some rest? Help us out, Cubs. We want that rocket ship to take off already.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (64-47) just can’t seem to break away from .500 here in the second-half of the season. The Brewers, meanwhile, have gone 10-7 in the second half and are now just 1.0 game out of first.

The Kansas City Royals (34-77) were just swept by the Twins in three, after taking a series from the White Sox, all on the road. They are – essentially – the worst team in baseball (neck and neck with the Orioles).

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Monday, August 6th at 7:15 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, August 7th at 7:15 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, August 8th at 7:15 CT on WGN, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Cole Hamels (0.00 ERA, 1.36 FIP; 4.50 K/BB)*
  • Mike Montgomery (3.90 ERA, 4.04 FIP; 1.93 K/BB)
  • Jose Quintana (4.12 ERA, 4.61 FIP; 1.94 K/BB)

*One start with the Cubs 🙂

Active Depth Chart:

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

Unavailable: Anthony Bass, Justin Hancock, Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Drew Smyly, Brandon Morrow

Kansas City Royals

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jakob Junis (5.12 ERA, 5.41 FIP; 3.03 K/BB)
  • Brad Keller (3.39 ERA, 3.67 FIP; 1.54 K/BB)
  • Heath Fillmyer (3.86 ERA, 4.84 FIP; 1.20 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Salvador Perez
  • 1B – Lucas Duda
  • 2B – Whit Merrifield
  • 3B – Hunter Dozier
  • SS – Alcides Escobar
  • LF – Alex Gordon
  • CF – Rosell Herrera
  • RF – Jorge Bonifacio

Unavailable: Brian Goodwin, Ian Kennedy, Jorge Soler, Blaine Boyer, Cheslor Cuthbert, Nate Karns, Jesse Hahn, Eric Skoglund.

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Cole Hamels. It’ll be hard to take our eyes of Hamels tonight, because his last start was very promising and he has the power to really change the Cubs fortunes down the stretch. He’s taking over a rotation spot from Tyler Chatwood, so the bar is low in terms of how good he needs to be to constitute an improvement, but still, the upside remains.

Cubs Player: We’ve seen a lot of Ian Happ lately, but that hasn’t really paid off. Since the break, Happ has taken 60 plate appearances and although he’s walked an impressive 10 times during that stretch (16.7 BB%), that’s about all that’s working for him: .188/.333/.292. HOWEVA, I actually think he’s just been really unlucky. Despite a career BABIP of .341 (which might seem high, until you remember that Happ is fast and tends to hit the ball hard), Happ has had a .276 BABIP since the break. And that BABIP feels wholly unearned given his truly fantastic 13.3% soft and 40.0% hard-hit rates during that stretch. Equally important, Happ hasn’t hit too many grounders and has no infield fly balls during that stretch. So, basically, yeah, he’s probably just fine and worth playing right now. Things should even out.

Royals Pitcher: The Cubs are fortunate to miss Danny Duffy this series, because he has been pretty great lately (3.38 ERA, 2.92 FIP over his past six games), but they will get Brad Keller tomorrow, and he’s had a couple of solid starts in a row, himself. His last time out, he struck out nine White Sox and allowed just 2 earned runs over 6.1 IP. Since converting into a starter back at the end of May, he’s got a 3.90 ERA, 3.73 FIP in 11 starts.

Royals Player: Salvador Perez is having a pretty poor offensive season – even by his own standards – but continues to be a force behind the plate defensively. With that said, he rates extremely poorly in the pitch framing department (last, in fact, with -135 calls going his way) which is more than two times worse than the Cubs catcher Willson Contreras: -58 calls. How about that?

NOTE: Jorge Soler (fractured toe) is still at least a week away from a return, so we will not see him this week.

Author: Michael Cerami

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