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 Unfortunately for Reds players, they are leaving the visitors clubhouse outdated for quite a bit longer.

You don’t have to go back too far in the archives to read up on the Redleg Nation previews of the Chicago Cubs.

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.

STARTING PITCHERS
The following stats are from 2015:

PITCHER ERA FIP HR/9 BB% K%
Brandon Finnegan 3.56 4.80 1.5 10.7% 22.8%
Jon Lester 3.34 2.92 0.7 5.7% 25.0%

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.

STARTING LINEUPS
We the regular starting lineup for both clubs today, with the exception of former Reds catcher David Ross getting a start behind the plate.

  Reds   Cubs
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.)

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS
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.

GO REDS!

162 Responses

  1. Matt WI

    They must break up the Cubs wire-to-wire campaign! Go Reds.

  2. Pooter

    Remember the good ole days when a series with the Cubs was a chance to pad the W column? That’s when the Cubs used to Cub and give away Ws.

  3. Indy RedMan

    Can they just pitch Reed in Florida for a couple of starts and then bring him up? Louisville may not play again this year?
    As for tonite….I think Finnegan will be better out of the pen but overall I like the idea of lefties vs the Cubs! Heyward hit like .160 vs lefties in 2014 although he was better last year. I haven’t checked the splits on Fowler and Zobrist but Montero has been a Reds killer so old man Ross is a day at the beach compared to him. Finnegan shouldn’t pitch scared tonite with the cold working in the pitchers favor. Just throw strikes and see what happens! I was a little surprised to see that we were 6-13 vs the Cubs last year because we played them tough….most of the games were close!

  4. vegastypo

    I’d like to see how Billy does if he can get on base against Lester. The guy is notorious for not holding on runners very well. Wonder how much he addressed that over the winter.

  5. Patrick Jeter

    Picked up my first Blandino and T. Stephenson autographs today! Go, Reds!

  6. Patrick Jeter

    Cozart feeling a bit off… hmm…

  7. vegastypo

    After Votto fouled off that first pitch, he was kinda nodding his head, like, Yeah, I got this. …

  8. LR Green

    Good – and rare – heads up baserunning by Votto allows the Reds to score a run vs. an inning ending double play.

  9. Indy RedMan

    Umps already stole atleast 1 run from us….Suarez walks there like he should have and Lester is in pretty deep water. Watch Finnegan get squeezed now……no consistency from most of these clowns

  10. magi210

    Duvall flashing some leather early.

  11. LR Green

    Finnegan giving up some loud contact early. But a four-pitch inning nonetheless.

  12. Matt WI

    8 of innings of that defense/pitching please

  13. Indy RedMan

    Interesting stats for the Cubs vs lefties

    Rizzo is much worse vs lefties as expected but Bryant hits 50 pts lower with less power as well! Fowler/Zobrist are much better vs lefties but a lefty also gets Reds killer Montero out of the lineup for old man Ross. There are some holes in the Cubs armor but not many and they have the money to fix those

      • Indy RedMan

        Soler is like 25 pts lower too vs lefties but of course Soler/Bryant’s careers just started?

  14. Steve Mancuso

    Redleg North America.

    We just got a donation from Canada – to go along with the one we received this morning from Mexico. Thanks, eh.

    • Steve Mancuso

      We also added IDAHO to our list of states.

  15. LR Green

    Unreal. Billy with the big fly from the right side. Who are these guys in the red caps?

  16. Indy RedMan

    Hambone!! Just leave him in the 9 hole and see what happens? He def has more pop from the right but I guess they know what they’re doing?

    • vegastypo

      I think the Reds should have left him alone before making him a switch hitter … If he’s able to hit with more authority from the right side, teams would have to respect him a little more and not play little league infield depth against him.

  17. BigRedMike

    wow Hamilton hit a home run. Not sure that was possible

  18. BigRedMike

    No walks to the bottom of the order please.

  19. BigRedMike

    Got out of that inning somehow. Nice shift

    • Vicferrari

      They wanted to get Lester worn out running around on the basepaths, good plan

  20. Indy RedMan

    So in what world is the 2-2 pitch to Heyward a ball and the 3-0 to Suarez a strike? Atleast we didn’t get cheated on it but they tried

  21. Patrick Jeter

    18 pitches innings 1 and 2.
    27 pitches inning 3.

  22. Steve Mancuso

    Two more states – SOUTH CAROLINA and ALASKA – added to the donation list.

    Thanks!

  23. vegastypo

    why not just intentionally walk him? Maybe he’s afraid Lester can’t just lob the ball in there.

    • LR Green

      We were typing at the same time….I bet that’s it. Ross was setting up the left hand batters box.

  24. LR Green

    I wonder if Lester has the yips on intentional walks also? That was weird.

  25. BigRedMike

    Big hit by FInnegan.

    How about another HR by Hamilton

  26. LR Green

    If Billy could drop one down and make Lester field it…he might toss it to the bullpen.

  27. magi210

    At least Billy hit it fairly hard. Maybe he’s starting to get it.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s probably more likely that he’s hitting from the right side – his natural side. He’s still got a terrible swing from the left side.

      • Vicferrari

        Aren’t his stats virtually the same from both sides

  28. BigRedMike

    Like the change up from Finnegan. Just needs to work on his control

  29. docmike

    Somebody watching on tv, what happened with Cozart?

    • Indy RedMan

      To tell you the truth I really didn’t want Cozart back but he hasn’t swung and missed at one yet and he’s as solid in the field as they come. Hopefully its nothing major….we’re going well right now!!

    • vegastypo

      When he reached base to start the game, he called time and was rubbing at his knee and pointed toward it when talking to the trainer. Stayed in the game, but left a few innings later.

  30. Lee Carter

    I’m really really interested to see if Bham can take a huge step forward this year. We’ve seen it from other Reds at the major league level and if Suarez continues to play well; these Reds could be damn fun to watch. Can we please make sure someone teaches them to play hard and with confidence!

    • mtkal

      Hamilton certainly seems to be making a concerted effort to take more pitches and be more selective. I really wish they would let him hit only from the right side. He just looks so much more comfortable from the right.

  31. Vicferrari

    Was hoping to chase Lester there, not the best inning and judging from the outcome he was pretty dominant, curious to see if he bats

    • Vicferrari

      Really would have liked to extend that inning or least work that count, 1st pitching swinging by BP did not help, Mesoraco worked it, looked like ball2 according to Gameday on DP by Bruce. Despite what is going on I think 4 runs will be needed, Finegan cannot be expected to go past 6

  32. mtkal

    Wow that looks way inside when I slow mo it. About 6 inches.

    • vegastypo

      Gameday had it as on the corner, but it looked that way to me too.

      And here we go again with walks …

      • mtkal

        I’ve never been clear on how Gameday determines where to put the pitches. Someone, (I think on here, but can’t remember for sure), once said GD puts it in the area it looks like, but that what the ump called affected it too. So if it looks low and inside, but the ump calls strike then GD just puts it on the inside corner. No idea if that’s the case or not though.

      • vegastypo

        Gameday certainly has its flaws. I’ve seen pitches that were in the dirt, but GD has them just a few inches below the strike zone. But it seems a lot closer to reality regarding inside-outside.

    • Joey

      Me too, guy has been playing well but can’t stay healthy. If he is hurt please Reds don’t wait 14 days till you put him on the dl.

      • mtkal

        Hopefully it’s just barking a bit on a cold night.

    • Patrick Jeter

      He’s having a very good year defensively, thus far.

  33. Patrick Jeter

    About as bad an error as you’ll ever see on Suarez, there.

    • mtkal

      That’s the second time this year he’s started to throw before he got the ball in his glove. This one was certainly worse though. The other one, I think in the Bucs’ series was hit harder and was lower to the ground. Hopefully as he plays more third, he cuts down on that sort of thing.

      Finnegan completely unfazed though. Wonder how many pitches they let him throw.

  34. hof13

    Gotta miss Frazier’s defense. Growing pains with Suarez over there.

  35. Indy RedMan

    Our rotation is

    Raisel and Finnegan and its too bad we can’t begin again

  36. Joey

    Got to like what Duvall and Shebler are bringing to the table for the Reds so far

  37. Indy RedMan

    I would have the pen ready here…..kid is approaching 100 pitches and just sprinted to 2nd base too? Don’t blow this one!!

  38. mtkal

    No matter what happens, this kid has really impressed the heck out of me in his first two starts. It’s WAY early, but these young pitchers especially Finnegan and Iglesias (sp?) are starting to make me feel better about the future of this pitching staff. We knew there was a lot of talent, but these guys are showing signs they may well be able to pitch in the big leagues. Like I say though, very very early yet, but good to see.

    • Vicferrari

      Why was no one warming up, just dumb

  39. hof13

    Well that makes it easier to take Finnegan out. He probably has 1 more batter either way.

  40. mtkal

    It would be our old pal David Ross. Heck of a job by the kid though.

  41. AaronD

    blessing is disguise there… no telling how many pitches a full 9 no-hitter may have been. Hate to see price have to pull the kid with a no-no going.

    • Vicferrari

      Seem really dumb to worry about a guys individual performance when you could actually try to win a game, should had the right-righty matchup ready to go when Ross got on, now you got the top of the order with tying run at plate, hopefully it will not matter

      • AaronD

        ha.. woah buddy. just saying it would have sucked. not saying he shouldn’t have.

  42. RedsFanCT

    Please Mr. Hoover–Don’t mess up this masterpiece!

  43. hoosierdad1

    Just cannot believe Price left him in after his first hit. I would’ve pulled him after 6 and 92 pitches just to make sure the reliever would start with nobody on base. He’s managing for the player instead of the team. Bad moves.

    • Vicferrari

      Totally agree, at least have the right warming up, no reason to leave him there it was obvious he was out of gas after facing Ross- put them at such a disadvantage

  44. hoosierdad1

    Just cannot believe Price left him in after his first hit. I would’ve pulled him after 6 and 92 pitches just to make sure the reliever would start with nobody on base. He’s managing for the player instead of the team. Bad moves.

  45. Indy RedMan

    That runner is on Price…..swear he lost the feeling for pitchers he had when he was the pitching coach? I don’t get it? He had to know the kid was spent and then you have that adrenaline dump after the hit….comeon?

  46. bobbyhowsamjrb

    Credit Bryan Price – the Einstein of baseball managers – for bringing in a righty to face a lefty. Pure genius.

    • spro

      Not always about righty-lefty matchups

    • Vicferrari

      Hits much better against lefties- it was the smart move, but was dumb is not have a righty facing Sczur, or at least go talk to Finegan who obviously was not focused after losing the no-hitter

    • Steve Mancuso

      You might want to slow your roll on the insults. Fowler is a switch hitter with better career numbers against LHP. A simple search would have told you both those things. I guess blasting Price is too much fun to let the facts get in the way.

    • spro

      Ugh, 0-2 and you throw a fastball right down the middle. Just can’t do that.

  47. Indy RedMan

    Wow….what a horrible 0-2 pitch! Lefties struggle vs lefties because of breaking balls….not 0-2 meatballs right down the middle?

  48. hoosierdad1

    So, by Price managing for the player instead of the team, Finnegan goes from a 6 inning no-hit outing to 6 2/3 innings and 2 earned runs and now is in real danger of not even getting the win. That’s just plain dumb baseball!

    • bobbyhowsamjr

      Price should’ve pulled Finnegan went he went 2-0 on the first guy he walked. But the real brain-cramp was Price’s failure to have guy’s up and throwing. Because neither Cotham nor Cingrani were up and throwing, he couldn’t squeeze the trigger on a reliever earlier. Guy is simply the worst manager in the NL.

    • Reddy

      So which sure-fire reliever would YOU have gone with?

  49. Vicferrari

    That was completely botched, cannot believe Price did not consider having a righty warming up. I assume Cingrani faces Rizzo is pulled, but they got a bunch of lefties on the bench, I assume Maddon out manages Price here as Price has put himself in a hole.
    Cingranni has to get Heyward there but at least they got a lead

  50. Indy RedMan

    Mesoraco looks horrible right now? Making contact but everything is a jam shot or off the end of the bat.

  51. Joey

    Who would have thought after a week of baseball that Billy Hamilton would have more home runs than Votto or Mez? That’s baseball!

  52. hof13

    Cingrani always scares me. He’s like a box of chocolates …

  53. vegastypo

    Cingrani is lucky that pitch hit the batter, or else it would have been ball four and another wild pitch to advance the runner. awful.

  54. Indy RedMan

    I’m really worried!! Baseball fans are older in general and some Reds fans might not survive 2 months of this bullpen?

  55. Joey

    Cingrani sure blew his opportunity to be something other than a loogy tonight. Surprised some on here wanted to see him as our closer. Hopefully he turns it around, still a young season.

  56. mtkal

    Well think about it for a second. How many games did you think we would win when scoring 3 runs?

      • mtkal

        Well that was kinda my point. Our pitching just isn’t good enough to win many games unless we score a lot of runs. Whether we walk a bunch or just get knocked around, we’re not holding many teams to less than 3 runs.

  57. AaronD

    Boom. Boom. Bang. Boom. Ker plunk. pshhhhhh…

  58. Indy RedMan

    Jumbo sucks….who didn’t see that coming? He wasn’t that good when he was throwing 99 and now he’s 95 with horrible location. What a gift…..Cubs did nothing all night and we give it away. This pen is just atrocious and will keep us from being competitive this year.

    • spro

      Obviously. If you’re cutting budget, bullpen is the first place. And the front office has repeatedly stated they’re targeting ’17 for competitiveness and not ’16.

  59. spro

    Stuck between a rock and hard place. Russell crushes fastballs. Cingrani can’t throw a breaking pitch to save his life, and Jumbo throws 95 with no movement.

  60. Indy RedMan

    They stole atleast a run from us in the 1st when they called that 3-0 pitch to Suarez a strike. I def didn’t feel good at 3-0 and 3-2 is almost hopeless with Jumbo/Hoover forced to get 6 outs? That 0-2 meatball from Cingrani killed us! Heyward is like a .229 career hitter vs lefties.

  61. ManuelT

    How many passed balls did Mesoraco have tonight? Although, I know Cingrani was kind of wild tonight.

    • vegastypo

      It’s unfair to hang much of that on Mes behind the plate. Finnegan was all over the place, and as you said, Cingrani fell apart in a hurry too. Maybe on a night when he doesn’t have to play hockey goalie on every third pitch, he would do a little better back there.

      But boy, would I ever like to see him hit something besides grounders to third.

    • vegastypo

      I don’t think we would have won anyway, but those called strikes in the top of the ninth were embarrassing to umpiring.

  62. hoosierdad1

    REDS with 3 runs on 7 hits and the Cubbies with 5 runs on 3 hits. Just amazing….If Price pinch-hits for Finnegan in the top of the 7th with Duvall on 2nd, they probably get another run. Then the reliever would’ve started out the 7th with a clean slate.

  63. mtkal

    Not that it made too much difference, but the home plate ump got kinda caught up in the excitement in the ninth inning. Anything the catcher could get his glove on was gonna be called a strike.

    • vegastypo

      For whoever is doing the recap, my condolences. Can’t be fun on a game like this.

  64. Indy RedMan

    Hoover is ok for the 7th….nothing more. Cingrani is ok for 1 lefty. Jumbo is terrible….Duvall had to throw a guy out at the plate just to give him a scoreless inning yesterday. Price might as well try Wood/Straily in big situations because these other guys have had shots over the years and it ain’t happening.

  65. Kywhi

    Cingrani hurt the Reds badly tonight. Hopefully the night off tomorrow helps. Brutal loss for this young team, but they came back from the Pittsburgh loss.

  66. Gaffer

    Let’s keep perspective, the purpose of this year is to develop the young guys. They ain’t winning the division.

  67. bobbyhowsamjr

    How a manager or a pitching coach has a guy throw a fastball to fastball hitter in a green light special situation I will never know. But it was the final in a series of botched management decisions, starting with the decision not to have guys up in the pen and going righty righty on Fowler, as opposed to going with Cingrani, that are the reason we’ve lost two games this year. It’s also further evidence as to why having Stephenson in the pen would really help. That said, loved what I saw from Finnegan. Feeding the Cubs a steady diet of off-speed stuff really kept them off balance. Kind of reminded me of Tom Browning. The future is very very bright for this kid.