The Cubs’ brief West Coast swing concludes with a trip to Seattle for a two-game interleague series against the Mariners starting Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park. This comes after the Cubs took two of three from the Diamondbacks, including a win in the wild 15-inning series finale Sunday. That win moved them into second place in the NL Central with a 14-12 record, percentage points ahead of the Brewers.
Winners in 11 of their last 15 games, the Cubs are coming in hot, with strong starting pitching serving as the catalyst for the run of success. Cubs starters have completed at least five innings in each of their last 17 contests.
The Mariners (18-13) are in a virtual tie for first place in the AL West, percentage points behind the Astros. Seattle has scored more runs than any team in the majors this season so far (184), and they’ve also hit the most home runs (59). They’ve hit a bump in the road lately, however, dropping five of their last seven.
Former Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach is off to a scorching start for the M’s, posting an eye-popping 1.189 OPS with eight home runs serving mostly in a DH role. Other major contributors to the powerful Mariners lineup include former NL Central foes Jay Bruce and Domingo Santana. Bruce’s paltry .176 batting average is bolstered by his nine homers and .827 OPS.
The Mariners’ pitching hasn’t been great this season, giving up the second most runs in all of baseball (170). They will send two their two best starters to the mound to face the Cubs in this series, though. Tuesday’s starter, Félix Hernández, is off to a solid start this year after muddling through a couple of sub-par seasons. His WHIP (1.224) and FIP (3.73) are both at their lowest points since 2015. Lefty Marco Gonzalez will get the nod Wednesday. He’s been stellar all season, posting a 2.80 ERA in seven starts en route to a 5-0 record.
The Cubs counter with two of their aces, giving Cole Hamels the start Tuesday and Jon Lester Wednesday. Hamels had a rare off night in his last start, walking six Dodger batters in 5.1 innings. The Cubs ended up winning that game 7-6 thanks to the home run theatrics of Javy Baez and Jason Heyward. Lester was solid in his first start off of the IL last week, striking out five Dodgers and giving up just one run in five innings.
With two powerful offenses and intriguing starting pitching matchups, this should be a fun series to watch.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
Tuesday 4/30 at 9:10pm CT on NBC Sports Chicago
Wednesday 5/1 at 5:40pm CT on WGN
- It will be interesting to see how Joe Maddon employs the designated hitter in this series. One option would be to DH Kyle Schwarber Tuesday against the right-handed Hernández, allowing David Bote to play third and run out some outfield combination of Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr. and Ben Zobrist. Schwarber’s overall numbers aren’t pretty this season, but he had a good series in Arizona, going 5-for-10 with two doubles.
- Bryant went just 3-for-14 in the series against Arizona, but all three hits were for extra bases, including two home runs. Bucking his career numbers, KB has actually done more damage against righties (.793 OPS) than lefties (.689 OPS) this season. Right-handed hitters overall are slugging .478 against Hernandez this season, compared to .344 for lefties. Small sample sizes in both cases of course, but this could bode well for Bryant.
- Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger suffered a shoulder injury Saturday against the Rangers. He didn’t play Sunday and it’s unclear whether he’ll play against the Cubs. While the Mariners offense has plenty of firepower even without him, they will miss his seven home runs and 19 RBI if he can’t go.
- What is the over/under on the amount of times Lester’s walk-off bunt against the Mariners in 2016 will be shown? It was one of the signature moments of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series winning season, capping off a crazy 12-inning Sunday night game at Wrigley. It was also the last time these two teams faced each other. Memories.