Okay, Here We Go: Padres at Cubs, May 31-June 2, 2021

Although the Cubs did manage to take advantage of the weaker part in their schedule, the real test of the season begins this afternoon with three games against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. For however good the Cubs have been lately, the Padres are one of the best teams in baseball, and the Cubs are missing more players than you can fit in two Uber XLs (… unless the driver is cool and lets your friend hop in the trunk, ’cause it’s just a short ride and he’ll totally pay for the ticket if you get pulled over … I have digressed). 

Oh, yeah, injured Cubs:

I’m still holding out hope that we’ll see Anthony Rizzo as soon as today, but I’m not counting on it.

And things don’t get easier from here. After these three games, the Cubs will head to the West Coast to face the Giants four times and the Padres for another three games on their turf. Then, they’ll head back to Wrigley for a quick three-gamer against the Cardinals, before hitting the East Cost for four straight against the Mets.

There’s a little break in the action thereafter – a reprieve against the Marlins (3 games) and Indians (2 games) at home – but then we’re right back at it for four straight against the Dodgers in L.A. and three straight against the Brewers in Milwaukee to close the month.

That’s a LOT of coast-to-coast travel and a lot of very tough teams at perhaps the worst possible time. If the Cubs make it through this stretch successfully (and without so many of their regulars), you can bet they’ll be going for it when the trade deadline comes to pass. If not, well, unlucky/unfair or not, that could be the end of this core’s run.

So get ready for four of the most important weeks of Cubs baseball you’ll catch this season.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (29-23) have won 8 of their last 10 games while going 18-8 in May so far. They’re a half-game out of first place in the NL Central, with the best run differential in the division. The San Diego Padres (34-20) are tied for the best record in MLB and have the best run differential too. And they’re doing all that in the toughest division in MLB. So while we can debate it, I think that makes them the best team in MLB. Or at least puts them in the running.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Monday, May 31st at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Tuesday, June 1st at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, June 2nd at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Chris Paddack (R) vs. TBD
Game 2: Ryan Weathers (L) vs. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 3: Dinelson Lamet (R) vs. Adbert Alzolay (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo(?)
•   2B – Eric Sogard
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Javy Baez
•   LF – Joc Pederson
•   CF – Ian Happ
•   RF – Kris Bryant

Unavailable: Trevor Megill, Jake Marisnick, Alec Mills, Jason Heyward, Justin Steele, Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner, David Bote, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, Trevor Williams, Anthony Rizzo?

San Diego Padres

•   C – Victor Caratini
•   1B – Eric Hosmer
•   2B – Jake Cronenworth
•   3B – Manny Machado
•   SS – Fernando Tatis Jr.
•   LF – Tommy Pham
•   CF – Jurickson Profar
•   RF – Tommy Pham

Unavailable: Taylor Williams, Drew Pomeranz, Trent Grisham, Austin Nola, Trey Wingenter, Matt Strahm, Mike Clevinger, Jose Castillo, Javy Guerra, Michael Baez, Dan Altavilla, Adrian Morejon, Jorge Ona, Keone Kela

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: +27 (9th)
Padres: +86 (1st)

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.58 (12th)
Padres: 4.85 (8th)

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.06 (10th)
Padres: 3.26 (1st)

Keep An Eye Out For …

The Hot Padres Hitters. No surprise, Fernando Tatis Jr.has been especially hot lately, slashing .455/.509/.1045 (288 wRC+) since May 8th. That is – by far – the best in MLB. But he’s not the only hot bat in San Diego. Tommy Pham has four straight 2-hit games, with a double and a homer. He’s also walking 16.7% of the time for the year, with a strikeout rate just barely over 20%.

Kris Bryant. Don’t forget about the Cubs MVP. He’s got an 12-game hitting streak active. The typical big-game power hasn’t been there as much lately, but his overall season slash line is still very impressive: .320/.404/.586 (170 wRC+).

Tommy Nance. How about a little love for Tommy Nance? Despite making his big league debut this season (at age 30), Nance has been scoreless in six straight outings, with just 2 hits and 2 walks on his big league ledger. The Cubs bullpen has had a lot of stars this season, but he’s quietly been a big contributor in increasingly high leverage opportunities.

Missing Yu? I might long for the days Yu Darvish was embarrassing hitters in a Cubs uniform, but I am not sad he pitched on Saturday and is therefor not lined up to start against the Cubs this week. Ditto Blake Snell (even if he’s struggling). The Cubs will get both guys the next time these two teams square up, but we’ll take what we can get for now.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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