With the losing streak reaching five games, the Reds will be entering today’s matinee series finale with some extra motivation to win. The team hasn’t been completely blown away in either of the two games in this Cubs series, but have gained two L’s regardless. The Cubs, meanwhile have made ground against the second place Cardinals and the first place Milwaukee Brewers (!) in an attempt to regain the throne of the NL Central.
Making his return to the big league rotation today is Amir Garrett. The Reds recalled the rookie lefty today from AAA, and in return sent Barrett Astin back down I-71 to Louisville. Garrett was sent down to AAA Louisville a few weeks ago, the front office citing an attempt to limit his innings over the course of the long season. While this is probably a legitimate reason for Garrett to be sent to Louisville, it also obviously had some positive (for the team) service time implications as well. Garrett pitched two innings in AAA, and struck out every single batter he faced. He’ll look to return to his solid rookie campaign with the Reds, as he’ll face the Cubs for the first time this season.
Game 3 for the Cubs will be in the hands of perhaps their best pitcher in 2017, Jon Lester. Lester has been pretty good so far in 2017, with two 5ER games inflating his numbers a bit. One of those 5ER games was his last outing against the Reds on April 21, a game the Cubs ultimately won 6-5 in 11 innings after a rare Michael Lorenzen bullpen blowup. The Redlegs will look to have similar success against Lester today, although as it’s been proven in the first two games of the series, 5 runs might not be enough to win against the defending champs.
|CF Billy Hamilton (71 wRC+)||RF Ben Zobrist (95 wRC+)|
|SS Zack Cozart (169 wRC+)||3B Kris Bryant (148 wRC+)|
|1B Joey Votto (152 wRC+)||1B Anthony Rizzo (100 wRC+)|
|LF Adam Duvall (111 wRC+)||LF Ian Happ (228 wRC+)|
|3B Eugenio Suarez (128 wRC+)||C Wilson Contreras (87 wRC+)|
|RF Scott Schebler (114 wRC+)||SS Addison Russell (70 wRC+)|
|2B Jose Peraza (56 wRC+)||2B Javier Baez (70 wRC+)|
|C Tucker Barnhart (77 wRC+)||P Jon Lester (3.62 xFIP)|
|P Amir Garrett (4.60 xFIP)||CF Albert Almora Jr. (93wRC+)|
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon will switch things up once again, looking for the series sweep against the good guys. Ben Zobrist will lead things off tonight. He’s struggling to start the season, but is nearing league average across the board. Kyle Shwarber gets the night off.
The Reds will sent out the same starting 8 for the third straight night. The offense hasn’t been the problem so far this season, and they’ll look to keep producing at their top-10 level. Zack Cozart continues to swing a hot bat – will he ever cool off? Goat Watch 2017 looks to be more than just a funny story to tell. Someone get Joey Votto a goat guy.
News and Notes
Despite the two losses in this series, the Reds as a whole have continued to look pretty good on the field. The exception here remains the starting pitching, which has been the only element of the Reds that has been outside of the top 10 when compared to the rest of the major league. Unfortunately, starting pitching might be the most important element a team can have. It’d be very interesting to see how this team would have faired sans injury, but that’s the way the game works. Let’s hope the good guys can claim at least one game from Wrigley in this series.