Series Preview: Cubs at Tigers, August 21 - August 22, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Tigers, August 21 – August 22, 2018

Chicago Cubs

And so begins the most defining stretch of the season

Later tonight, the Cubs will begin their first of 23 straight games, a stretch that could ultimately decide whether you can book that vacation in October. The good news is that things start off easy with the Tigers. The bad news is that this short series is on the road. The worse news is that the offense has been spinning its wheels, and that means the Cubs will need two of their longer-tenured pitchers, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester, to really deliver.

Of course, we’ll be watching their starts with as much of an eye towards the postseason as we have on this series.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (71-52) are still just two games over .500 here in the second half after 30 contests. They’ll need to break away soon if they hope to put this divisional race away.

The Detroit Tigers (51-74) are playing even worse in the second half of the season (.370 winning%) than they were in the first half (.418) and that wasn’t that good to begin with. They’re 21.5 games behind the Indians and 24.0 games out of the Wild Card. Their season is over. They should probably just play pretend tonight.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Tuesday, August 21st at 6:10 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, August 22nd at 6:10 CT on WGN, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Kyle Hendricks (4.11 ERA, 4.15 FIP; 3.42 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (3.72 ERA, 4.83 FIP; 2.17 K/BB)

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 – Ian Happ/Albert Almora
  • RF – Jason Heyward/Ben Zobrist

Unavailable: Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Drew Smyly, Brandon Morrow, Brian Duensing

Detroit Tigers

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jordan Zimmermann (4.36 ERA, 4.29 FIP; 4.88 K/BB)
  • Francisco Liriano (4.72 ERA, 5.63 FIP; 1.33 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – James McCann
  • 1B – Jim Adduci
  • 2B – Niko Goodrum
  • 3B – Jeimer Candelario
  • SS – Jose Iglesias
  • LF – Victor Reyes
  • CF – Mike Gerber
  • RF – Nick Castellanos

Unavailable: Michael Fulmer, Blaine Hardy, John Hicks, Artie Lewicki, Miguel Cabrera, Daniel Norris

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Jon Lester is coming off one of his best starts of the season, and my eyes will be glued to his start this time around. This is nothing more than a hope, but if he can really be closer to vintage Jon the rest of the way, the Cubs rotation questions (and there are a LOT) would be far easier to answer.

Cubs Player: Kyle Schwarber is someone I expect to start hitting well and very soon. Despite shaky numbers in the second half of the season, Schwarber’s peripherals tell a very different story. He may not start tomorrow against Liriano, but look for him tonight and look for him to succeed at the plate.

Tigers Pitcher: Jordan Zimmerman has allowed a TON of fly balls this year and plenty of hard contact to match it. I’d like the Cubs to break out of their funk by stringing a bunch of hits together, but tonight might be a night to go for the long ball.

Tigers Player: Jeimer Candelario (former Cub) has slowed WAY off his pace from the beginning of the year. Since the All-Star break he’s slashed just .228/.286/.337 (65 wRC+), making Cubs fans everywhere breath a sigh of relief (remember when he, Christian Villanueva, Jorge Soler, and Gleyber Torres were all killing it simultaneously? That was rough).

Author: Michael Cerami

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