The Reds will look to rebound after a tough series in San Francisco, in which they dropped 3 of 4 against the Giants. The Cubs will enter this matchup 3-7 through their last 10 games – an unexpected skid in what has been an underwhelming early 2017 for the defending champions. Both teams will look to take advantage of their opponent’s recent downswings in this series taking place in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Game one starts tonight at 8:05PM EST. Let’s dive into the matchup.
Bronson Arroyo has been solid, if unspectacular, in his return to the Queen City. His last few outings have seen him cut down on his BB%, which has resulted in less earned runs. He’s still very homer prone, mostly due to the poor quality of his mistake pitches. When Bronson makes a mistake, it’s basically a batting practice fastball. Bronson is the ultimate gamer, and was able to hold these Cubs to 2 earned runs through 6.0 innings, striking out 7 and walking no one in his last outing against Chicago. We’ll see if he can repeat that tonight.
On the mound for the cubs is the big righty John Lackey. He’s a guy the Reds have seen quite a bit in recent years, having pitched for both the Cubs and the Cardinals in the last half-decade. Lackey was the loser in the last Arroyo/Lackey faceoff on April 23, giving up 5 earned runs through six innings. He made seven Reds whiff in that game, and on the season has struck out over 25% of the batters he’s faced. He’ll look to bounce back against his team’s NL Central rival tonight.
|CF Billy Hamilton (71 wRC+)||LF Kyle Shwarber (78 wRC+)|
|SS Zack Cozart (157 wRC+)||RF Kris Bryant (147 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (148 wRC+)||1B Anthony Rizzo (95 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (116 wRC+)||CF Ian Happ (277 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suarez (134 wRC+)||3B Jeimer Candelario (-55 wRC+)|
|RF Scott Schebler (120 wRC+)||SS Addison Russell (70 wRC+)|
|2B Jose Peraza (52 wRC+)||C Wilson Contreras (82 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (67 wRC+)||P John Lackey (4.16 xFIP)|
|P Bronson Arroyo (4.91 xFIP)||2B Javier Baez (76 wRC+)|
Same ole’ same from the Reds. Just by looking at the wRC+, it’s easy to see that the offense for the Redlegs has been there all season. Cozart, Votto, Duvall, Suarez and Schebler all have a chance to make the All-Star team given their production in comparison to the rest of the league. The defense generated by this every day lineup has been near or at the top of the rankings of just about every defensive metric category. Add that to a top-10 bullpen, and it reveals the only weakness this team has shown so far – the starting pitching. Bronson Arroyo will head to the mound tonight to try to back up this offense. Let’s hope he can get the job done.
How this Cubs lineup isn’t winning more games is beyond me. Somehow the Cubs have gotten younger and more talented since the last time the Reds played them, as today the Redlegs will get their first look at a pair of top-100 prospects in Jeimer Candelario and Ian Happ. Candelario has struggled in the five games he’s been up in the majors, only managing one hit in 18 ABs, and none since his debut. Happ will man Center Field and hit cleanup for the Cubbies in his first ever major league game against the Reds. Hopefully the Reds can stymie both of these young hitters in an effort to beat the Cubs tonight.
News and Notes
As a fan, the intensity always ramps up against the Cubs. They’ve been struggling this year, and with the Reds not looking as bad as we thought they might heading into the season, it’s fun to watch these two teams face off. Both teams are looking to get back on track, so there should be a little extra competitiveness between them throughout this series. I’m looking forward to it!