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 Unfortunately for Reds players, they are leaving the visitors clubhouse outdated for quite a bit longer.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

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 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.

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)


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

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

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.


Join the conversation! 162 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. At least we no longer have the agony of watching Chapman sit in the 8th.

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

  6. 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.

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