The final road trip before the All-Star break got off to a bit of a rough start, with the Cubs (52-38, 1 GB) dropping two of three games to the San Francisco Giants. As they prepare to wrap up the first half of the season, they move on to San Diego with a three-game set against the struggling Padres.
Offense was at a premium for Chicago in the San Francisco series, as the Cubs scored just seven runs in 33 innings (games 1 and 3 went 11 and 13 innings, respectively). The pitching, however, was strong for the most part, with both Kyle Hendricks and José Quintana turning in vintage performances that give hope that they are getting back on track.
While the series loss to the Giants was the Cubs’ first in over two weeks, San Diego (40-56, 12.5 GB in NL West) hasn’t claimed a series victory since taking two of three from St. Louis a month ago. A big part of the problem during that stretch, and really for the whole season, has been a lackluster offense.
Simply stated, the Padres have one of the worst offenses in baseball. They are 14th in the NL walk rate (7.9 percent) and ISO (.134) and sit dead last in the league in runs (351), strikeout rate (25.6 percent), OBP (.296), slugging (.366), wRC+ (82) and fWAR (3.7). One of the lone bright spots for San Diego has been the play of Wil Myers.
The 2018 campaign got off to a rough start for Myers, as he went on the DL twice by the end of April, with the latter injury (left oblique strain) keeping him out for almost two months. Since returning on June 21, however, the Padres outfielder has been on a tear, hitting .310/.395/.704 with seven home runs, 17 RBI and a wRC+ of 192. His contact rates since his return have been even more eye-popping; Myers’ soft contact is at an absurd 3.6 percent with his hard contact at 50.9 percent.
On the pitching side of things, it has really been a story of two units. The starting rotation has been far from a strength for San Diego this season, as the Padres have trotted out 10 different starters with none having what you would call overwhelming success. Collectively, the starting rotation is 12th in the league in FIP (4.52), 13th in ERA (4.67), fWAR (3.0) and hard contact (39.8 percent), and 14th in WHIP (1.43) and K/BB (2.06).
Conversely, the bullpen has been one of the best in the league, holding the fourth-best ERA (3.63), second-best FIP (3.47) and fWAR (4.4), and a league-leading 3.35 K/BB ratio. The Padres already have three relievers with an fWAR over 1.0 (Craig Stammen, Adam Cimber and Kirby Yates) with closer Brad Hand not far behind in joining the group.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, July 13 at 9:10 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago
- Saturday, July 14 at 9:10 p.m. CT on ABC 7 and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Sunday, July 15 at 3:10 p.m. CT on WGN
What to Watch For
- Don’t be too alarmed if the Cubs don’t get anything going against Richard the first time through the order. The veteran left-hander has allowed a .223/.228/.314 line with a 2.93 ERA in his first trip through the lineup but the numbers get pretty ugly thereafter. Those figures jump to .237/.341/.415 with a 5.26 ERA the second time through and an even uglier .281/.355/.480 and 5.91 ERA in the third go-round.
- The Padres made a big splash in the offseason when they signed Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million contract, but it’s safe to say its been a struggle for him in his inaugural season in San Diego. The first baseman is hitting just .250/.321/.396 with a wRC+ of 96.
- Speaking of players having difficulties in their first season with a new team, you have to wonder if this is one of Chatwood’s final shots at turning things around. General Manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged that the team will be asking other teams about pitching as the trade deadline approaches and if something pans out in that regard, the struggling righty would be the first to get bumped.
- The Cubs would love to see both Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo go on one of their patented hot streaks at the plate. Will this be the series that jumpstarts their bats? In nine career games in San Diego, Kris Bryant has hit .290/.385/.645 with three home runs and a wRC+ of 162. Rizzo has not been as successful at Petco, however, as he has hit just .171/.275/.257 with one home run in 18 games with the Cubs.