Series Preview: Marlins at Cubs, June 18 - June 20, 2021

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Series Preview: Marlins at Cubs, June 18 – June 20, 2021

Chicago Cubs

Starting tonight, the Cubs will play five straight games at home – the first three against the Marlins and the next two against the Indians. Theoretically, this is the softest stretch of the toughest part in their 2021 regular season schedule, buuuuut it’s also not all that easy.

The last-place Marlins may not be scoring a ton of runs overall, which is great for the Cubs’ relatively beat-up/struggling rotation, but they have been excellent at preventing runs all year (Marlins are just outside the top-5 in runs allowed per game) … which is not so great for the Cubs struggling offense. In that sense, this matchup is not all that unlike the one we just watched with the Mets. And meanwhile, after a slow start, the Indians have gone 25-16 since the beginning of May, bringing their record up to 10 games over .500 in the middle of June. They’re tough, too.

After this it’s the Dodgers and Brewers on the road for seven straight, so … buckle up.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (39-30) did some serious losing in New York, but fortunately, the Brewers did even more losing of their own, so the Cubs are back in sole possession of first place. Life could be worse. The Miami Marlins (29-39), meanwhile, were just swept by the Cardinals, which, when combined with dropping the finale against the Braves, puts them on a four-game losing streak. They are in last place of the NL East, though they’re actually the only other team in that division besides the first place Mets with a positive run differential.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Friday, June 18th at 7:05 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, June 19th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, June 20th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Zach Davies (R) v. TBD
Game 2: Jake Arrieta (R) v. Pablo Lopez (R)
Game 3: Alec Mills (R) v. TBD

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – Sergio Alcantara
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Javy Báez
•   LF – Joc Pederson
•   CF – Ian Happ
•   RF – Kris Bryant

Unavailable: Justin Steele, Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner, David Bote, Trevor Williams, Adbert Alzolay, P.J. Higgins, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine

Miami Marlins

•   C – Jorge Alfaro
•   1B – Jesus Aguilar
•   2B – Jon Berti
•   3B – Isan Diaz
•   SS – Jazz Chisholm Jr.
•   LF – Lewis Brinson/Jesus Sanchez
•   CF – Starling Marte
•   RF – Adam Duvall

Unavailable: Jordan Holloway, Nick Neidert, Miguel Rojas, Cody Poteet, Daniel Castano, Garrett Cooper, Corey Dickerson, Jose Devers, Jeff Brigham, Jorge Guzman, Brian Anderson, Elieser Hernandez

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: +38 (8th)
Marlins: +2 (12th)

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.48 (13th)
Marlins: 3.82 (28th)

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 3.93 (8th)
Marlins: 3.79 (6th)

Keep An Eye Out For …

Jesus Aguilar. Over his 11 games (48 plate appearances), Jesus Aguilar has recorded four multi-hit games and hits in all but one contest, including 2 homers and 3 doubles: .400/.438/.625 (186 wRC+). He’s not striking out much during that stretch and he’s working his walks. Looks pretty locked in, just scouting the stat lines.

Starling Marte. The former Pirates outfielder is hitting a ridiculous .333/.429/.534 (170 wRC+) … FOR THE SEASON, with a strikeout rate under 19% and a walk rate above 12%. He has gone hitless in each of his last two games, with just three hits scattered over his last five games (none for extra bases), so maybe he’s cooling off? I wouldn’t count on it. Stay away from him if you can.

Three interesting Cubs starters. The Cubs have some really noteworthy starts to keep an eye on this series.

First up, Zach Davies, who’s coming off his two best starts in a Cubs uniform. Against the Cardinals and Padres, he went a combined 12.2 IP with just 3 hits(!) and four walks against 10Ks. Now would be a PERFECT time for him to be really dialing it in.

Then there’s Jake Arrieta on Saturday. Arrieta had a nice start, himself, against the Padres, especially after back-to-back duds against the Reds (3.2 IP, 5R) and Giants (2.0 IP, 6R), but he did not do well against in New York (5.0 IP, 4H, 4ER, 4BB, 3Ks), where he was particularly wild.

And finally, there’s Alec Mills filling in the gaps of the rotation once again. Although his overall line against the Mets wasn’t particularly strong, I thought he actually LOOKED really great. His first two earned runs came with two outs on some bloopy BABIP-fueled donks and the third earned run scored after he left the game. He had great movement on his pitches and was otherwise staying at the bottom of the zone. He shouldn’t be left in too long, but I bet he could give the Cubs five strong innings.

The Marlins have scored the third fewest runs per game in MLB this year, so … take advantage of it, Cubs pitchers. Come on.

Author: Michael Cerami

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