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Series Preview: Twins at Cubs, September 21 – September 22, 2021

Chicago Cubs

You can fan however you want, but I’m not running from it anymore – not with 12 games left in this nightmarish season, with the team directly ahead of the Cubs in the reverse standings on tap. It’s time to lose these games, Cubs.

To me, the tank is worth the higher draft pick *and* larger bonus pool.

 

But I get it, no one wants to root against the Cubs, especially not when they have seven more games against a Cardinals team that’s trying to back their way into the playoffs (with Jon Lester in tow, no less). So, again, root as you will and I won’t blame you. But also live and let live. I want the Cubs to lose, so that this season has marginally more value to the future of the franchise than it has at the moment. And losing to the Twins, in particular, has extra value at the moment.

And, remember: You can still root for individual success out of Patrick Wisdom, Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Frank Schwindel, Alfonso Rivas, Willson Contreras, Kyle Hendricks, Codi Heuer, Rowan Wick, Kyle Hendricks, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, Adbert Alzolay, Alec Mills, et al. while hoping the final score goes against the team, as a whole.

So … Go Cubs. Just not too much.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (67-83) have lost 7 of their last 10 games with 12 games more to go this season. They currently rank 8th in the reverse standings, but anything from 6th-10th is possible. And you especially want to avoid falling to 11th, because that pushes you back to 12th thanks to the Mets. The Minnesota Twins (65-85) are right there ahead of the Cubs in the reverse standings and offer the best chance at making progress in tha trespect. Unfortunately, they’ve also lost 7 of 10 and are just generally quite bad.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Tuesday, September 21st at 6:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, September 22nd at 6:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Alec Mills (R) vs. Griffin Jax (R)
Game 2: Kyle Hendricks (R) vs. Joe Ryan (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Frank Schwindel
•   2B – Matt Duffy/David Bote
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Nico Hoerner
•   LF – Ian Happ
•   CF – Rafael Ortega
•   RF – Alfonso Rivas

Unavailable: Jason Heyward, Manny Rodriguez, Jonathan Holder, Nick Madrigal, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins, Kohl Stewart, Brad Wieck, Michael Hermosillo

Minnesota Twins

•   C – Ryan Jeffers
•   1B – Miguel Sano
•   2B – Jorge Polanco
•   3B – Luis Arraez
•   SS – Andrelton Simmons
•   LF – Brent Rookier
•   CF – Byron Buxton
•   RF – Max Kepler
•   DH – Josh Donaldson

Unavailable: Lewis Thorpe, Mitch Garver, John Gant, Rob Refsnyder, Edwar Colina, Devil Smeltzer, Cody Stashak, Kyle Garlick, Alex Kirilloff, Taylor Rodgers, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -122
Twins: -113

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.33
Twins: 4.47

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 5.15
Twins: 5.22

Keep An Eye Out For …

The Cubs Starters. Since August 12th, Kyle Hendricks has allowed 36 earned runs in 35.2 innings pitched, which is uncharacteristically awful. Hopefully, he’s just worn down at the end of a year that doesn’t really mean much anymore. Because if this is any indication of how next season will go for Hendricks, the Cubs are in even bigger trouble than I expected. Alec Mills, meanwhile, has done a great job at preventing runs here lately, but he does have 31 strikeouts to just 8 walks over his last 42.2 innings pitched, plus a 45.6% ground ball rate. Generally speaking, I like what I’ve seen from him.

Frank Schwindel is no joke. Since August 1st, roughly when he began starting full-time, his 2.2 WAR ranks 6th in MLB, behind Bryce Harper, Juan Soto, Jose Ramirez, Tyler O’Neill, and Marcus Semien. And his 184 wRC+ ranks 3rd. Meanwhile, he’s got a 15.3% strikeout rate during that stretch, which is one of the top-30 marks in MLB.

Jorge Polanco is having a really nice season overall (127 wRC+, 4.2 WAR), and has been especially hot over his last 131 PAs: .302/.321/.627 (151 wRC+). He’s not walking much, but 11 doubles and 10 homers is, uh, pretty good.



Author: Michael Cerami

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