Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, July 2 – July 4, 2021

Will we have sad fireworks or happy fireworks on Sunday?

The Cubs have passed the halfway point in the season, but they don’t quite get a break just yet. There are still three more games on the road (in Cincinnati this weekend) and seven more at home against the Phillies and Cardinals. I’ve been persuaded to believe that the best course of action *at the moment* is to just do nothing – at least, until after the All-Star break. But there’s no doubt our expectations and hopes for this season took a hit.

It’s not over, certainly. But the Cubs will have to make some serious noise with a roster that is still very banged up, a bullpen that’s overworked, and a rotation in shambles.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (42-39) have lost six games in a row, dropping down to just three games over .500 and 6.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. If they don’t take care of business this weekend, they could quickly find themselves in third place, behind … The Cincinnati Reds (40-40) haven’t been doing anything special lately, they’re .500 for the season and .500 over their last ten games. They’re 8.0 games out of first at the moment.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Friday, July 2nd at 6:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, July 3rd at 3:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, July 4th at 12:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Alec Mills (R) v. Sonny Gray (R)
Game 2: Adbert Alzolay (R) v. Tyler Mahle (R)
Game 3: Kyle Hendricks (R) v. Wade Miley (L)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo(?)
•   2B – Sergio Alcantara/Eric Sogard
•   3B – Kris Bryant(?)/Patrick Wisdom(?)
•   SS – Javy Báez
•   LF – Joc Pederson
•   CF – Jake Marisnick/Ian Happ
•   RF – Jason Heyward

Unavailable: Justin Steele, Nico Hoerner, David Bote, Trevor Williams, Dillon Maples, Ryan Tepera, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, Mastt Duffy, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins

Cincinnati Reds

•   C – Tucker Barnhart
•   1B – Joey Votto
•   2B – Jonathan India
•   3B – Eugenio Suarez
•   SS – Kyle Farmer
•   LF – Jesse Winker
•   CF – Aristides Aquino
•   RF – Nick Castellanos

Unavailable: Jeff Hoffman, Max Schrock, Alex Blandino, Michael Feliz, Sonny Gray, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Brandon Bailey, Michael Lorenzon, Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -2 (14th)
Reds: -4 (17th)

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.22 (18th)
Reds: 4.98 (5th)

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.25 (13th)
Reds: 5.03 (25th)

Keep An Eye Out For …

Nick Castellanos … still on fire. Sometimes, I like to use this space to check on the former Cubs just because it’s fun to check in on former Cubs, but that’s not why I picked Castellanos today. The outfielder is having a monster season and is arguably in the race for NL MVP, behind only Fernando Tatis Jr. and Ronald Acuña Jr. Overall, Castellanos is slashing .346/.401/.604 (168 wRC+) with 33 multi-hit games. He’s got just 13 games without a hit all year.

Also on fire? Jesse Winker. The Reds offense scores some of the most runs per game for a reason, my friends, and it’s not just Castellanos. Winker is slashing .322/.400/.587 (165 wRC+) this year, with 19 homers and a 16.9% strikeout rate. He’s got a four-game hitting streak going and six-game on-base streak.

Kyle Hendricks hates Cincinnati. Kyle Hendricks would be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer if it wasn’t for Cincinnati (I kid, but seriously it’s awful). In 10 games at Great American Ballpark, Hendricks has a 6.67 ERA and the Reds are slashing .300/.357/.502 (.363 wOBA). Gonna have to be better this weekend.

Let’s keep Craig Kimbrel healthy. I’m not saying, I’m just saying … let’s not push Kimbrel past his limits for the next few weeks, at least. Please and thanks. I’m sorry. But it’s honesty.

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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