Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, August 16 - August 18, 2021

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Series Preview: Cubs at Reds, August 16 – August 18, 2021

Chicago Cubs
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The last time the Cubs opened up a series against the Reds, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javy Baez were all still Cubs. And Baez, with an injured heel, delivered one of the most memorable moments of the entire season.

Baez, for all his faults, was one of the single coolest Chicago Cubs of all-time. If there’s not a reunion in the picture for after this season, I hope very dearly the Cubs are able to find a player like him again. The attitude. The confidence. The effort. I guess Willson Contreras has a little of that swag going on, but it’s not quite the same. Anyway, this is off-topic.

The Cubs are heading to Cincinnati to take on the second-place Reds. Unfortunately for the Reds, winning the division is mostly out of the question at this point, but the Wild Card slots are still well within reach. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they’re still playing without most of their best (remaining) players and are one loss away from a 12-game losing that would match the depths of the 2012 rebuild.

Then again, they’ve already managed two 11-game losing streaks this season, which has never been done before in franchise history.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (52-68) have lost 11 games in a row for the second time this season (it’s the first time they’ve ever done that). And with just one more loss, they’ll tie their 12-game losing streak from 2012. The Cincinnati Reds (64-55) may be in second place, but they’re still 8.0 games behind the Brewers in the division. The 2.5 game gap for the Wild Card is a more reachable target, but that means they’ll have to take down one of the Padres or Dodgers. No small task.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Monday, August 16th at 6:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Tuesday, August 17th at 5:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, August 18th at 11:35 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Justin Steele (L) vs. Wade Miley (L)
Game 2: Kyle Hendricks (R) vs. Vladimir Gutierrez (R)
Game 3: TBD (R) vs. Tyler Mahle (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Robinson Chirinos
•   1B – Frank Schwindel/Patrick Wisdom
•   2B – David Bote
•   3B – Matt Duffy/Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Andrew Romine
•   LF – Ian Happ/Patrick Wisdom
•   CF – Rafael Ortega
•   RF – Jason Heyward

Unavailable: Dillon Maples, Nico Hoerner, Willson Contreras, Adbert Alzolay, Jonathan Holder, Nick Madrigal, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins, Kohl Stewart, Brad Wieck

Cincinnati Reds

•   C – Tucker Barnhart
•   1B – Joey Votto
•   2B – Jonathan India
•   3B – Mike Moustakas/Eugenio Suarez
•   SS – Kyle Farmer
•   LF – Jesse Winker
•   CF – Michael Lorenzen
•   RF – Nick Castellanos

Unavailable: Tejay Antone, R.J. Alaniz, Brad Brach, Brandon Bailey, Michael Feliz, Art Warren

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -86
Reds: +25

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.15
Reds: 5.04

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.87
Reds: 4.83

Keep An Eye Out For …

Frank Schwindel just keeps on hitting, and now has three homers in his last four games. And in the month of August, he’s slashing .378/.417/.756 (207 wRC+) with a 20.8% strikeout rate, four homers, five doubles, and 13 RBI. The ISO and BABIP are unsustainably high, but he’s hitting a ton of fly balls, not striking out much, and hitting it hard enough. Enjoy it while it lasts, I suppose.

Justin Steele is making his second big league start for the Cubs tonight, and I’m pretty darn stoked about it. I’m still going to guard myself from overreacting one way or another, but it’s difficult not to feel like I’m pouring all of my Cubs fandom into this one outlet; with everyone else traded or injured, there aren’t many buckets left. Sorry, Justin Steele, you’re our only hope.

Manny Rodriguez has 7 strikeouts and 2 walks in his first 6.0 innings of relief with the Cubs, but he’s also allowed 7 hits and 6 runs (3 earned). Note, however, he’s made three straight scoreless appearances. Maybe he’s starting a little streak here.

Since returning from the IL, Nick Castellanos has struck out 16 times in 41 PAs (yikes), slashing .176/.293/.382 in the process. I’m sure he’ll get his feet back underneath him, but it’s been slow rolling so far. And aside from helping the Reds make the playoffs, Castellanos could be playing for his next contract down the stretch. He’ll have to turn it on quickly, lest he decide not to opt out at the end of the year.

Tyler Mahle’s last two starts were really freakin good (combined): 14.0 IP, 9H, 2ER, 0BB, 17Ks. That’s 17 strikeouts, no walks, and just 2 earned runs in fourteen innings pitched. Sure, the Pirates and Phillies aren’t top teams in the league, but neither are the Cubs. Thursday’s morning game might be … not too fun.

Author: Michael Cerami

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