Series Preview(s): Reds at Cubs, Cubs at Reds, September 30 - October 5, 2022

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Series Preview(s): Reds at Cubs, Cubs at Reds, September 30 – October 5, 2022

Chicago Cubs

Between the Field of Dreams game in Iowa and six straight contests to end the season, MLB must’ve really thought Cubs-Reds 2022 was going to be something special. It has not been. But at least it’s been tight! The Cubs (7-6) are just barely over than .500 against the Reds this season with six games to go before the clock strikes midnight. So buckle up, because we’re in the home stretch.

The first three games of the series will be at Wrigley Field, before we wrap things up in Cincinnati starting on Monday. That’s also when I’m supposed to be headed to the hospital with the wife to have our first kiddo! So I thought I’d wrap these two series up into one preview to save myself some justifiable glares in the hospital room.

The Cubs have been doing a whole lot of winning here in the second half, and I’d sure like to see that continue all the way across the finish line. Go Cubs.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (70-86) just cannot stop winning. They are now SIX games over .500 in the second half of the season, which is good for a .547 winning percentage. Do that over a full season and you’ll land right around 88-89 wins. The Cubs have moved into sole possession of 11th in the reverse standings, and are actually a threat to move a spot lower, if the Diamondbacks (2.0 games “back”) don’t clean up their act.

The Cincinnati Reds (60-96) are at no such risk to fall out of the bottom-4 records, though currently they’re a game out of the bottom three, where the best odds reside. Specifically, the Pirates (59-97, 16.5% lotto odds) have a one game lead over the Reds (60-96, 13.25%) with six games to go.

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Hayden Wesneski is likely going to get one more start before the year is up, and boy has he earned it. Across three starts and two very long relief appearances (27.0 IP total), Wesneski has managed to earn a 2.33 ERA with a shockingly impressive 1.70 xERA. He’s achieved those results and peripherals on the strength of strong strikeout (25%) and walk (5.6%) rates, as well as truly excellent contact management: 85.0 MPH average EV, 5.4 barrel%, 28.4 hard%, 45.2 GB%, and so on. It’s really quite impressive. He’s going to be the talk of the offseason, even if the Cubs probably shouldn’t head into 2023 with him penciled into a rotation spot right off the bat.

Seiya Suzuki came back from a hurt finger (and some paternity leave) smoking hot, notching a walk, a single and a triple in his first game back in right field. I cannot say enough nice things about the way he’s ended his season. There were ups and downs, no doubt, but the peaks have improved and he really looks like someone who’s figured out how to hit in MLB. I’m just so thoroughly impressed and optimistic about his 2023 season.

Speaking of a strong end to the season, how about Ian Happ? He’s got a 119 wRC+ for the year, 3.3 WAR, and is … a candidate for a Gold Glove Award? That’d look pretty nice next to his All-Star bid on his arbitration hearing one-pager, eh?

Willson Contreras. The Cubs catcher and de facto clubhouse leader is back behind the plate following some time off for an ankle injury, but for how much longer with the Cubs? Unlike the trade deadline, these *are* the last six games under contract for Contreras. He could always accept the qualifying offer (or work out some sort of surprising multi-year deal), but we could actually be witnessing the end of an era.

Game Times and Broadcast Info

Series 1: Wrigley Field

  • Friday, September 30 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, October 1 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, October 2 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Series 2: Great American Ballpark

  • Monday, October 3 at 5:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, October 4 at 5:40 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, October 5 at 3:10 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Probables

Series 1: Wrigley Field

Game 1: Graham Ashcraft (RHP) vs. Adrian Sampson (RHP)
Game 2: Nick Lodolo (LHP) vs. TBD
Game 3: Chase Anderson (RHP) vs. Marcus Stroman (RHP)

Series 2: Great American Ballpark

Game 1: Hunter Greene (RHP) vs. Drew Smyly (LHP)
Game 2: Luis Cessa (RHP) vs. Hayden Wesneski (RHP)
Game 3: Graham Ashcraft vs. Javier Assad (RHP)

Chicago Cubs:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Alfonso Rivas/Patrick Wisdom
  • 2B – Esteban Quiroz/Zack McKinstry
  • 3B – David Bote
  • SS – Nico Hoerner
  • LF – Ian Happ
  • CF – Chris Morel
  • RF – Seiya Suzuki
  • DH – Franmil Reyes

Injured/Unavailable: Nick Madrigal, Steven Brault, Justin Steele, Codi Heuer, Ethan Roberts, Jason Heyward, Kyle Hendricks, Brad Wieck, Rafael Ortega, Alec Mills

Cincinnati Reds

  • C – Austin Romine
  • 1B – Matt Reynolds
  • 2B – Jonathan India
  • 3B – Spencer Steer
  • SS – Jose Barrero
  • LF – TJ Friedl/Stuart Fairchild
  • CF – Mike Ciani/Stuart Fairchild
  • RF – Aristides Aquino
  • DH – Kyle Farmer

Injured/Unavailable: Robert Dugger, Justin Dunn, Mike Minor, Tejay Antone, Justin Wilson, Tony Santillan, Lucas Sims, Vladimir Gutierrez, Aramis Garcia, Jeff Hoffman, Tyler Stephenson, Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Art Warren, Nick Senzel

By the Numbers

Run Differential:
Cubs: -97
Reds: -144

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 3.99
Reds: 4.08

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.62
Reds: 5.01

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Author: Michael Cerami

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