Given what’s going on across the league, everything that follows comes with a giant “IF and MAYBE ….”
The Chicago Cubs are heading out for the first road trip of the season, and it’s actually a fairly big one. The Cincinnati Reds were often projected as one of the teams most threatening to win the division this year – they received the biggest playoff odds boost in MLB after the new schedule was released – so getting four straight games against them early on in a 60-game season, where you play each of your division opponents just ten times, can lead to a huge swing in the standings.
Unfortunately for the Reds, the series has already taken a turn in the Cubs direction.
First, Anthony DeSclafani was sent to the IL with a mild shoulder strain. Then, Matt Davidson (who tested positive for COVID-19) and Mike Moustakas (who did not feel well) were added to the indefinite-length injured list, as Nick Senzel was scratched from the lineup yesterday after not feeling well. Meanwhile, Catcher Tucker Barnhart (paternity list) also came off the roster for the birth of his second son (good news in a vacuum, tough timing with the bigger picture in mind). Lot could happen to the Reds’ roster between now and the conclusion of this series.
For now, Cincinnati has made a series of moves in response, including claiming former Cub Robel Garcia off waivers, calling up catcher Tyler Stephenson, and recalling outfielder Aristides Aquino and pitcher Tejay Antone from their alternate training site. This is a trying time for that organization – and the league – and the Cubs need to take extra precautions while they’re in Cincinnati.
Let’s all hope for the best.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (2-1) won their first series of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers, capping it off with a Sunday blowout. They’re heading out on the road for the first time this year.
The Cincinnati Reds (1-2) won the opener by a wide margin on Friday, but dropped two close ones to the Tigers after that.
Game Times and Broadcasts Info
• Monday, July 27th at 5:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Tuesday, July 28th at 5:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Wednesday, July 29th at 5:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Thursday, July 30th at 5:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
Game 1: Jon Lester (L) v. Wade Miley (L)
Game 2: Alec Mills (R) v. Tyler Mahle (R)
Game 3: Kyle Hendricks (R) v. Sonny Gray (R)
Game 4: Yu Darvish (R) v. Luis Castillo (R)
• C – Willson Contreras
• 1B – Anthony Rizzo
• 2B – Nico Hoerner
• 3B – Kris Bryant
• SS – Javy Baez
• LF – Kyle Schwarber
• CF – Ian Happ
• RF – Jason Heyward
• DH – Victor Caratini
Lineup Notes: With our first lefty matchup of the season on deck tonight, we may see Albert Almora draw his first start of the year in center field. We might also get a Steven Souza Jr. sighting, depending on whether Jason Heyward sits or Kyle Schwarber becomes the designated hitter (or both!).
• C – Curt Casali
• 1B – Joey Votto
• 2B – Kyle Farmer
• 3B – Eugenio Suarez
• SS – Freddy Galvis
• LF – Shogo Akiyama
• CF – Nick Senzel
• RF – Nick Castellanos
• DH – Jesse Winker
Unavailable: Anthony DeSclafani, Mike Moustakas(?), Matt Davidson, Tucker Barnhart (Paternity List), Nick Senzel(?)
Keep An Eye Out For …
Cubs Pitcher: Although Alec Mills has made six big league starts in his career, tonight almost feels like his first. It’s certainly his first as a true member of the rotation and given the vacancies in the Cubs starting five next year (and beyond), he has a real shot to earn his keep this season. That’s the one silver lining to Jose Quintana’s unfortunate/surprise injury this summer. But to show you I’m not so cold and calculated about it, note that Mills actually looked really good this spring and summer and I’m legitimately excited to see what he’s got. If he winds up working out as a legitimate back-of-the-rotation starter, the Cubs would fill a huge roster hole over the next FIVE years after this one. That’s crucial.
Cubs Player: Kris Bryant has gotten off to a very cold start (1-14, 6Ks), especially considering that his one hit was a blooper, but there’s absolutely no reason to be concerned. He’s one of the most talented hitters in the game and he’s shown an elite ability to adjust as needed. To be even more clear, his struggles have nothing to do with the leadoff spot, nothing to do with any lingering shoulder injuries, and nothing to do with the mental side of the game. It’s just a little slump and I’m sure he’ll break out of it soon.
For his career, Bryant has slashed .298/.388/.488 (134 wRC+) with 6 homers and 14 doubles over 41 games in Cincinnati.
Reds Pitcher: Wade Miley is a soft-tossing left-hander, which is exactly the profile that has given this Cubs offense fits over the years. However, the Cubs now have some additional weapons to counteract this sort of arm (Nico Hoerner, Victor Caratini, Steven Souza?), so we’ll have to see if that makes enough of a difference.
Reds Player: Nick Castellanos has a hit in each of the Reds first three games, including a double and a walk. I’ll be watching him closely all week, longing after what could have been.