The Cubs just dropped their first series of the year to the Rays, but they have a beautiful opportunity to bounce back this weekend, when the Pirates come to town for four straight games at Wrigley Field.
Taking at least two out of these four games is a must. But frankly, we should be aiming even higher, because after this weekend, the gauntlet begins: Three against the Braves in Atlanta, three against the Brewers in Milwaukee, two against the White Sox at Wrigley, three against the Dodgers at Wrigley, three against the Padres in San Diego. That’s four straight projected division winners and then the Padres on their home turf. Stacking wins now is crucial.
Also, Jose Quintana better not stifle the Cubs again. I can’t take that.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (6-6) are back down to .500 after dropping their first series of the season. They’ve now lost two in a row and six of their last ten. Better wake back up soon. Meanwhile, after splitting a two-game series with the Cubs and taking two of three from the Nationals, the Pittsburgh Pirates (5-7) dropped three straight to the Milwaukee Brewers. They’re back below .500, hopefully, where they’ll remain all weekend.
Hot or Not and What to Watch
Seiya Suzuki is human! He’s got no hits in his last two games and struck out twice yesterday. Of course, he also walked four times over those same two games, so maybe he’s still alien after all.
Nick Madrigal started the season off 1-15 with a single, a walk, and a HBP (-18 wRC+), but since getting the day off and resetting, he’s got 8 hits in his last 23 at-bats, including two doubles, a walk, and just one strikeout: .348/.375/.435 (133 wRC+).
Patrick Wisdom’s last five games: 8-15, five 2Bs, two HRs, 7 RBI, 2 walks, 4Ks and a 407 wRC+. LOL. That’s as hot as it gets. But that’s not all, Statcast has him AVERAGING 99.7 MPH exit velocity on his balls in play with a 24.9 degree launch angle. When the guy makes contact – and it’s happened a lot in this stretch – it’s truly special stuff.
Jose Quintana was absolutely schooling the Cubs the last time these two teams met, inducing a ton of ground balls (53.3%) while allowing just one earned run on a solo homer. Quintana was relying on his changeup a bit more than usual in that outing, so we’ll see if he sticks to the same game plan or tries to flip the script a bit the second time around. Theoretically, you’d assume advantage Cubs in such close proximity, but they just couldn’t do much against Q last time.
Daniel Vogelbach is on a bit of tear, with ten hits in his last seven games, including a double and a couple homers. Chances are we’ll see him at DH and leading off a lot this week.
Game Times and Broadcasts Info
• Monday, April 21 at 6:40 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
• Tuesday, April 22 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
• Wednesday, April 23 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
• Thursday, April 24 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
Game 1: Mark Leiter Jr. (R) vs. Bryse Wilson (R)
Game 2: Drew Smyly (L) vs. Jose Quintana (L)
Game 3: Kyle Hendricks (R) vs. Zach Thompson (R)
Game 4: Justin Steele (L) vs. J.T. Brubaker (R)
• C – Willson Contreras
• 1B – Frank Schwindel
• 2B – Nick Madrigal
• 3B – Patrick Wisdom/Jonathan Villar
• SS – Nico Hoerner
• LF – Ian Happ
• CF – Jason Heyward
• RF – Seiya Suzuki
• DH – Rafael Ortega/Clint Frazier
Unavailable: Wade Miley, Andrelton Simmons, Alec Mills, David Bote, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer
Tampa Bay Rays
• C – Roberto Perez
• 1B – Yoshi Tsutsugo
• 2B – Josh VanMeter
• 3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
• SS – Kevin Newman
• LF – Ben Gamel
• CF – Bryan Reynolds
• RF – Cole Tucker
• DH – Dan Vogelbach
Unavailable: Luis Oviedo, Max Kranick, Anthony Alford, Sam Howard, Duane Underwood Jr., Nick Mears, Blake Cederlind, Greg Allen
By the Numbers:
Runs Scored Per Game:
Runs Allowed Per Game: