Series Preview: Reds at Cubs, July 26-29, 2021

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Series Preview: Reds at Cubs, July 26-29, 2021

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs (obvious trade deadline sellers) are just 2.5 games behind the Cincinnati Reds, who could plausibly be buyers … depending on the outcome of this very series in Chicago! It’s weird!

The question, then is … Should we root for wins this week, playing spoiler for the Reds while implicitly helping the Brewers and perhaps the Cardinals in the division (yuck!), while also turning the Reds into sellers to compete with the Cubs? Or should we “root” for losses during what could be the final few days of the World Series core playing together?

I know the logic here. Buuuuut I’m still a fan and I never find it easy to root against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, even when it’s in their best interest.

In any case, this is a four-game series in Chicago, the final series before the Trade Deadline. The first three games are at night, and Thursday is a day-game. Based on the schedule, we’ll probably see Willson Contreras sit out Wednesday or Thursday, so don’t get worried when he’s not in the lineup a day or two before the deadline.

As for Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Baez, well … if they’re out of the lineup, you might go grab a paper bag for breathing.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (49-51) are two games under .500 and five games under .500 in July. They’re in fourth place of the NL Central and will be selling at the deadline. The Cincinnati Reds (51-48) are 6.5 games out of first place (5.5 out of the second wild card slot) and playing without Nick Castellanos at the moment. They need to play well this week, if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Monday, July 26th at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Tuesday, July 27th at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, July 28th at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Thursday, July 29th at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Wade Miley (L) vs. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 2: Vladimir Gutierrez (R) vs. Adbert Alzolay (R)
Game 3: Tyler Mahle (R) vs. Zach Davies (R)
Game 4: Luis Castillo (R) vs. Alec Mills (R)

Chicago Cubs

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

Unavailable: Kohl Stewart, Jake Arrieta, Rowan Wick, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins, Brad Wieck

Cincinnati Reds

•   C – Tyler Stephenson
•   1B – Joey Votto
•   2B – Jonathan India
•   3B – Eugenio Suarez
•   SS – Kyle Farmer
•   LF – Jesse Winker
•   CF – Tyler Naquin
•   RF – Aristides Aquino

Unavailable: Michael Feliz, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Art Warren, Michael Lorenzen, Nick Castellanos, R.J. Alaniz, Brandon Bailey, Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel, Alex Blandino

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -21
Reds: -19

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.21
Reds: 4.82

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.42
Reds: 5.01

Keep An Eye Out For …

One last time. When I refer to the Cubs World Series core – on the positional side – I mean Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Willson Contreras, and Anthony Rizzo, all of whom are still on the Cubs for now. But if I had to put money on it, and bet anything that at least one of those four will not be in the Cubs lineup for Friday night’s contest in Washington D.C. And if you really pressed me, I’d say moving on from 2 of 4 is a possibility. Bryant is the most likely to be moved, Contreras the least likely. Baez and Rizzo probably have equal odds at this point, with plenty of rumors popping up for each, but they’re still probably closer to Contreras on the “unlikely” side of things than they are to Bryant on the “likely” side of things. Anyway, enjoy watching them all together one last time.

Who’s the Cubs third baseman? I know Bryant plays the outfield often (and it’s not like Ian Happ or Jason Heyward are pushing him back to the infield with their play) and I know he could soon be traded, but until then and even after, I’m curious who will draw the most starts at third base in the second half. I can make legitimate short and long-term cases for each of Matt Duffy, Patrick Wisdom, and David Bote, given their particular skillset, age, contract status, etc. I wonder what Ross will do.

Hello, Old Joey Votto. When I say “old” I mean “former” not “aging.” Since the All-Star break, Votto is slashing .333/.463/.667 (197 wRC+) with three homers and a 17.1% walk rate. He’s on fire. And at the perfect time for the Reds, with Nick Castellanos out of the lineup.

Will Davies start? Zach Davies is one of the Cubs other big trade chips (mostly because the starting pitching market is barren) and he’s scheduled to pitch on Wednesday. There’s at least a chance, then, that the Cubs try to get a deal done for him before he pitches that day (to reduce the odds of injury and also avoid facing a good Reds offense).

Author: Michael Cerami

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