The Cubs took care of business against the the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been the hottest team in the NL before coming to Chicago. After the first game was postponed to Tuesday, the Cubs took two of three in exciting fashion. They are currently 42-29, are tied for first in the NL Central with the Brewers, and have the National League’s best record.
Now, they leave the Friendly Confines for an eight-game road trip. Their first stop will be at the Great American Launch Pad in Cincinnati, where they will play four games against the hapless Reds. It has been a month since the Cubs squared off against the bottom dwellers of the NL Central and won three of four in dominant fashion.
Since the last time we saw the Reds, they have gone 12-13 overall and 4-5 against NL Central opponents. Their record currently stands at 28-45, which has them 15 games out of first and well on their way to being the worst team in the league.
Despite all that, the Reds have had some great offensive production. In fact, their fWAR over the past 30 days ranks third in all of baseball, trailing only the Indians and Astros. Eugenio Suarez (.320/.412/.598; 1.3 fWAR), Grown Man Named Scooter Gennett (.368/.400/.611; 1.2 fWAR), and the consistent Joey Votto (.326/.461/.489; 1.1 fWAR) have led the way. If the Cubs can contain two of these three guys (I doubt they contain Votto), they should be able to win their third consecutive series.
The Reds pitching staff has been the polar opposite of the offense. They rank 29th in fWAR and have the fourth highest ERA in baseball since the Cubs last faced them. Tyler Mahle, who the Cubs will not see this series, is the only starter who has posted an ERA less than 4.00 over that time period. Luis Castillo and Matt Harvey have struggled mightily, with ERAs of 6.08 and 5.60, respectively.
The Cubs should be able to dominate a pitching staff that has performed so poorly, so expect to see them score some runs this series.
Game and Broadcast Info
- Thursday, June 21 at 6:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Friday, June 22 at 6:10 CT on WGN
- Saturday, June 23 at 3:10 CT on ABC-7
- Sunday, June 24 at 12:10 CT on NBC Sports Chicago
What to Watch For
- Addison Russell has been hitting the ball well in the last two weeks. He leads the team in fWAR during that stretch and has slashed .333/.421/.485 over that time period. Look for him to continue his great performance at the plate.
- The bullpen has suffered a few key injuries lately, with Brandon Morrow hitting the DL after having trouble taking off his pants. With Carl Edwards Jr. already on the disabled list, the Cubs are down two of their top relievers and have been forced to rely on the likes of Anthony Bass, Randy “The Goat” Rosario, and a host of other pitchers that have seen time with the Iowa Cubs this season. So far they have done well, but watch for how they perform this series.
- Kris Bryant appears to be getting back to form. Since he broke his homerless streak on June 15, he has slashed .320/.357/.600, indicating that the power is there once again. Given how well Bryant, and the rest of the Cubs, tend to hit at Great American Ballpark, I fully expect him to hit at least two home runs and four doubles this series.