Aaaaand we’re back!
The Cubs are kicking off the second-half of the season on the road, with three straight games against Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are in a Wild Card race at the moment, riding a three-game winning streak out of the break. They’re looking to stack wins against a weaker Cubs team, but Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman, who are taking the ball in games one and two, did have nice strong finishes to the first half.
Tonight’s game is another AppleTV+ affair and Sunday’s finale will be on Peacock. With a standard Marquee broadcast in the middle, that’s three different channels for three straight games. That feels … not good.
After this series, the Cubs will return home for their final two games at Wrigley before the trade deadline (so, you know, we may see some tears …). Then there’s a day off before they head out west to San Francisco. A lot of change is coming over these next 11 days. Buckle up.
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (35-57) snapped their losing streak at nine games with one final win just before the All-Star break. They are currently a half-game “behind” the Reds in the reverse standings for the third worst record in MLB. And remember, that matters because the bottom three teams have the best (and equal) draft lottery odds.
The Philadelphia Phillies (49-43) rode a three-game winning streak into the Break and are six games over .500 for the season. They’re still 8.5 games out of first place in the NL East, behind the Braves and Mets, but they are currently in playoff position with the final wild card slot.
Hot or Not and What to Watch
Nico Hoerner finished the first half of the season (291 PAs) slashing .307/.344/.423 (112 wRC+), but he’s been WAY better than that for a while now. Take his last ~100 PAs, for example: .378/.423/.511 (160 wRC+). That stretch comes with an really solid average exit velocity (89.2 MPH), a great launch angle (10.1 degrees), and a ton of line drives (26.0%) to all fields. He’s just a wonderful hitter.
Ian Happ did not finish the first half strong, with just 2 hits (both singles), no walks, and five strikeouts over his last four games. And in July, he’s actually been below average. You don’t have to go back far, however, to uncover a brilliant stretch. For example, since June 1, he’s slashing .296/.368/.475 (135 wRC+). He just hit a bit of a slump. I’m curious to see how he picks up in the second half and how that might impact his trade value.
Marcus Stroman will be making his third start back from the IL in Game 2 of the weekend. He’s been successful in terms of results so far (8.1 IP, 1ER against the Dodgers and Mets is no joke), but he hasn’t gone very deep into either game. Hopefully, he can start to stretch back out here in the second half and show that he’ll be a big part of the rotation next season. The Phillies are a third straight tough opponent for him, though.
Mychal Givens has gone 12 straight outings without allowing an earned run.
Since July 2, Kyle Schwarber has only 8 hits and 3 walks in 59 plate appearances (.143 AVG) with a 42.4% strikeout rate, but six of those hits were home runs (.464 SLG). Classic.
For the season, Nick Castellanos has been below average offensively overall (88 wRC+). And while he will pick up a seven-game hitting streak, they’ve been mostly singles with TONS of strikeouts. Not sure what’s going on with him, exactly. But it has not gone well.
Game Times and Broadcast Info
- Friday, July 22 at 6:05 CT on Apple TV+, 670 The Score
- Saturday, July 23 at 5:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
- Sunday, July 24 at 11:05 on PEACOCK, 670 The Score
Game 1: Justin Steele (L) vs. Kyle Gibson (R)
Game 2: Marcus Stroman (R) vs. Zack Wheeler (R)
Game 3: Drew Smyly (L) vs. TBA
- C – Yan Gomes/Willson Contreras
- 1B – Alfonso Rivas/P.J. Higgins
- 2B – Chris Morel
- 3B – Patrick Wisdom
- SS – Nico Hoerner
- LF – Ian Happ
- CF – Rafael Ortega
- RF – Seiya Suzuki
- DH – Willson Contreras/Rafael Ortega
Injured/Unavailable: Nick Madrigal, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Wade MIley, Alec Mills, Kyle Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer, Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Hermosillo, Ethan Roberts
- C – J.T. Realmuto
- 1B – Rhys Hoskins
- 2B – Bryson Stott
- 3B – Alec Bohm
- SS – Didi Gregorius
- LF – Kyle Schwarber
- CF – Matt Vierling
- RF – Nick Castellanos
- DH – Darick Hall
Injured/Unavailable: Nick Maton, Bryce Harper, Zach Eflin, Sam Coonrod, Ryan Sherriff, Hans Crouse, Damon Jones, Jean Segura, James McArthur
By the Numbers
Runs Scored Per Game:
Runs Allowed Per Game: