After a rocky series against the Padres, the Cubs went to Kansas City and took care of business by taking two of three from the Royals. In addition to the winning the series, each of Cubs starter went at least six innings. The Cubs currently sit in first place in the NL Central, leading Milwaukee by two games with a 66-48 record. Now they head back to Wrigley and welcome the Washington Nationals to the Friendly Confines.
The Nationals hold a 59-56 record, good for third place in the NL East. They are currently 5.5 games behind the Phillies in the East and 4.5 games behind Atlanta, Arizona, and Los Angeles in the wild card race. First-year skipper Dave Martinez has done an admirable job thus far.
You are probably familiar with the Nationals’ best offensive player. If you recall, he once stole seven bases against the Cubs. That’s right, I am referring to their young shortstop, Trea Turner, who leads the Nationals’ 12th ranked offense in fWAR.
Since getting the call to join the big-league team, Juan Soto has torn the league up. In 70 games this season he is slashing.305/.423/.551 with 14 homers, 40 RBI, and 50 runs scored. Bryce Harper is having a bit of a down year, most of which can be attributed to his career-low .258 batting average on balls in play. His OPS is a robust .879, so he’s still performing well at the plate.
The Nationals’ pitching has been pretty good this year due in no small part to their ace, Max Scherzer. The 34-year-old has shown no signs he’ll be slowing down any time soon and is certain to get a fair number of Cy Young votes at the end of the year. Not to disparage the other pitchers, but saying Scherzer has carried the staff would be a fair assessment of the Nationals’ pitching situation.
So, what will happen this series? I think the Cubs will have difficulties scoring runs against Scherzer, but the other two games are very winnable.The Cubs should be able to beat Jeremy Hellickson on Friday. Saturday’s game will depend on how Jon Lester pitches.
Game and Broadcast Info
- Friday, August 10th at 1:20 CT on CSN Chicago and MLB Network
- Saturday, August 11th at 3:05 CT on ABC-7 and Fox Sports 1
- Sunday, August 12th at 7:05 CT on ESPN, because we could all benefit from more of A-Rod’s wonderful analysis
What to Watch For
- Watch for the starting pitching to continue working deeper into games. The only pitcher I would be concerned about not reaching that mark is Lester, who has not pitched great recently.
- The relief corps was good against the Royals, but there is no guarantee that the bullpen will perform as well against a better offense.
- I know Javy Baez has gotten most of the credit for the team’s success, and rightfully so, but where would this team be without David Bote’s contribution? If he hits well this series, then the Cubs should have no problem taking two of three from the Nationals.