The two best teams in the National League, by way of their 5-1 records, kick off a three game series tonight in Chicago. This isn’t how the standings are expected to end up this year, but I’ll take the ride at the top for as long as possible.
The Cubs are playing in Wrigley for the first time this season and will benefit from a newly expanded and redesigned home team clubhouse. Unfortunately for Reds players, they are leaving the visitors clubhouse outdated for quite a bit longer.
Nick Doran provided a position-by-position comparison of the Cubs versus the Reds at each position. Wesley Jenkins then profiled all the Cubs pitchers.
WHERE TO WATCH
If you are in the Cincinnati market, the Reds are on their usual Fox Sports Ohio channel. Today’s game will also be broadcast nationally on WGN.
The following stats are from 2015:
Brandon Finnegan is making just his fifth career major league start tonight. The 22 year old lefty limited the Phillies to two runs over six innings in his 2016 debut last week. He walked one and struck out nine. This will be his first career appearance against the Cubs.
Jon Lester is in the 2nd year of a six year, $155 million contract. Lester has made 31 or more starts for each of the past eight seasons. In 32 starts and 205 innings last year, Lester had a 3.34 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Last week against the Angels, Lester allowed just one run over seven innings, walked no one and struck out four.
We the regular starting lineup for both clubs today, with the exception of former Reds catcher David Ross getting a start behind the plate.
|1. Zack Cozart (SS)
2. Eugenio Suarez (3B)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
5. Devin Mesoraco (C)
6. Jay Bruce (RF)
7. Adam Duvall (LF)
8. Brandon Finnegan (P)
9. Billy Hamilton (CF)
|1. Dexter Fowler (CF)
2. Jason Heyward (RF)
3. Kris Bryant (3B)
4. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
5. Ben Zobrist (2B)
6. Jorge Soler (LF)
7. Addison Russell (SS)
8. David Ross (C)
9. Jon Lester (P)
OUT FOR THE SEASON
If you haven’t heard by now, the Cubs Kyle Schwarber tore his ACL and his LCL in his left knee last Thursday following an outfield collision with centerfielder Dexter Fowler. Fowler indicated that both players went hard after the ball with neither player calling for it. Fowler played the next two days following the injury, but sat on Sunday with a sore hip.
Schwarber is out for the season. In his place, left field playing time is expected to be given to Jorge Soler with occasional outfield starts given to third baseman Kyle Bryant. Despite the injury to Schwarber, ESPN still has the Cubs as the number 1 team in their power rankings:
While the loss of Kyle Schwarber for the season because of a torn ACL and LCL is a big blow, the Cubs have the depth in the outfield to weather the storm and continue to put up silly amounts of runs. — Joe Aiello (@VFTB), View from the Bleachers
THE DOTSON POWER RANKINGS
Our own Chad Dotson typically provides the Reds comments in the ESPN Power Rankings. This week, he’s preparing his post-season ticket order.
The first-place Reds are off to a hot start, and no one is hotter than third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Suarez is making Cincinnati fans forget about Todd Frazier, hitting .435/.500/.957 with four home runs in the first week. Is it time to print World Series tickets yet? — Chad Dotson (@dotsonc), Redleg Nation
TOUGHEST NL CENTRAL OPPONENT
The Cubs are favored by many to win the division this season. From the Reds perspective, the Cubs were their toughest divisional opponent. The Reds won just 6 of 19 games versus the Cubs last year (.316 Wpct.) In 19 games against each of the other NL Central teams, the Reds had more wins against the Cardinals (7 wins), Brewers (9), and Pirates (11.)
It has been raining in the tri-state area for most of the day, but that rain has avoided Chicago. It will be dry but cooler, and they should be able to play all game this week without weather related delays.
Hopefully, the Reds can retain their position atop the division tonight by playing spoiler to the Cubs home opener.