Coming off of winning two out of three at home against the Dodgers, the Cubs head to the desert for a weekend rematch with the Diamondbacks. Now a game above .500 and having won seven of their last 10, the Cubs are in second place in the NL Central, just 2.5 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. The two games the Cubs took last weekend are the only ones the D-backs have lost out of their last 10.
After a frightening start to the season, the Cubs have won or split five series in a row with the starting pitching leading the way. Jon Lester’s Thursday outing was the latest manifestation of this as the big lefty returned to the rotation from the IL to hurl five innings and only allow one run in a losing effort.
The Diamondbacks, at 15-11, also sit in second place in their home NL West. With the departures of Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock over the offseason, the D’backs were not expected to be serious contenders for the West title. However, their solid start has kept them just a half game behind the Dodgers in the competitive division.
The offense has been led by Christian Walker, a first baseman who has spent his career up to this point buried behind All-Star first basemen in Baltimore (Chris Davis) and Arizona (Goldschmidt). Walker has taken advantage of his playing time to the tune of a .333/.393./.679 line. Left fielder David Peralta continues to do great work and remains one of the most underrated players in the game, checking in with a line of .330/.366/.547.
According to FanGraphs, the Diamondbacks with the third highest fWARs are the resurgent Adam Jones (currently dealing with a minor hand injury), utilityman Eduardo Escobar and, believe it or not, pitcher Zack Greinke, who’s clubbed a pair of homers already this year.
The Cubs will miss Greinke on the mound but they will go up against lefty Robbie Ray, former Cubs farmhand Zack Godley, and former Cardinals prospect Luke Weaver. Ray, who pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Cubs last Sunday, has a 3.95 ERA (3.74 FIP) entering this weekend. Godley has struggled with a 6.67 ERA (5.19 FIP) thus far in 27 innings. A highly touted prospect with St. Louis for years, Weaver’s promise appears to be finally manifesting in the form of a 3.33 ERA (2.56 FIP) and a 5.17 K/BB ratio.
Coming off a series victory last weekend against the Diamondbacks and missing the always dangerous Greinke bodes well for the Cubs as they look to narrow the Cardinals’ NL Central lead.
Game Times and Broadcast Info
Friday, 4/26, at 8:40pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago+
Saturday, 4/27, at 7:10pm CT on ABC
Sunday, 4/28, at 3:10pm CT on WGN
What to watch for
- Quintana is in the midst of his best stretch as a Cub. Over his last 21 innings, he has pitched to a 0.85 ERA with an 8.33 K/BB ratio.
- After a middling start to the year, Anthony Rizzo’s bat seems to be coming back around. Though not a scorching stretch, Rizzo did go 7-for-25 during the homestand and heads to Arizona having hit safely his last six games. Perhaps a trip to the offensive haven of Chase Field can help him warm up even further.
- Hendricks’ start against Arizona last Friday was his best of the season so far. Can he maintain the same level of dominance that saw him strike out 11 Snakes last week? In the same vein, Ray only allowed four Cub hits during his outing on Sunday. Will he duplicate his success too?
- Báez enters the series with a .312/.347/.656 line and figures to be primed for a great weekend at Chase Field, a generous park for extra base hits. Báez is a combined 11-for-24 with two home runs and eight RBI in his career against the three scheduled Diamondbacks starters.