Series Preview: Diamondbacks at Cubs, July 23 - July 25, 2021

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Series Preview: Diamondbacks at Cubs, July 23 – July 25, 2021

Chicago Cubs

A week ago, the Cubs won a series against the Diamondbacks, taking the first two games behind Kyle Hendricks and Adbert Alzolay, before losing the finale with Zach Davies on the mound. This time around, the Cubs are swapping Hendricks and Alzolay for Alec Mills and Trevor Williams, which is – with all love and respect – a pretty a clear downgrade. Winning doesn’t “matter” at this point, but losing multiple games at home to a Diamondbacks squad that only just recently won their 30th game of the season in late July would be pretty depressing.

In any case, I suppose the primary focus of the series would be a very high-quality start from Zach Davies, who’s got just two more opportunities (max) before the Trade Deadline to build up/maintain his value (this first one against the very weak Diamondbacks … and then a second one against a much tougher Reds lineup). Not much time before the deadline. Let’s do it.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (47-50) just dropped three of four to the Cardinals and are now three games below .500 and nine games out of first place. The Arizona Diamondbacks (30-68) are an astounding 31.5 games out of first place, which is only 1.5 more games than wins they have collected … and it’s almost August. They’re historically bad.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Friday, July 23rd at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, July 24th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, July 25th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Zac Gallen (R) vs. Zach Davies (R)
Game 2: Merrill Kelly (R) vs. Alec Mills (R)
Game 3: Caleb Smith (R) vs. Trevor Williams (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – Nico Hoerner
•   3B – Kris Bryant/Patrick Wisdom/Matt Duffy
•   SS – Javy Báez
•   LF – Ian Happ/Kris Bryant
•   CF – Rafael Ortega/Kris Bryant
•   RF – Jason Heyward/Kris Bryant

Unavailable: David Bote, Dillon Maples, Eric Sogard, Kohl Stewart, Jake Arrieta, Brad Wieck, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins

Arizona Diamondbacks

•   C – Daulton Varsho
•   1B – Pavin Smith
•   2B – Josh Rojas
•   3B – Eduardo Escobar
•   SS – Nick Ahmed
•   LF – David Peralta
•   CF – Pavin Smith
•   RF – Kole Calhoun

Unavailable: Taylor Clarke, Carson Kelly, Ketel Marte, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luke Weaver, Chris Devenski, Seth Frankoff

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -26
Diamondbacks: -145

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.20
Diamondbacks: 4.19

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.46
Diamondbacks: 5.67

Keep An Eye Out For …

Hugs. The Diamondbacks and the Cubs are two of the clearest sellers in MLB this season, and even if Chicago hasn’t yet told teams what they’re seeking in trades, we know that could move quickly. On the Cubs side, your eyes are on Craig Kimbrel, Zach Davies, Andre Chafin, Ryan Tepera, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Baez, Jake Marisnick, and potentially others. On the Diamondbacks, who’ve already completed some deals, the big guy to watch is Eduardo Escobar. He *will* be traded before the deadline, and this series begins one week before that date. And Saturday’s starter, Merrill Kelly, has also been floated widely and often.

Josh Rojas has a seven-game hitting streak going and is slashing .295/.406/.411 (127 wRC+) with a 15.7% walk rate since the middle of June (last 134 PAs). It’s been a hot stretch.

Zach Davies needs a good start this weekend. Needs one. Please have a good, healthy start.

Author: Michael Cerami

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