This series preview will be a bit shorter than usual, since the Cubs just saw the Reds last week at Wrigley Field. By the time Sunday hits, the Cubs will have played the Reds (weather permitting) in seven of the season's first 19 games.
After that we'll bid farewell to the Reds until the end of June, when we'll see them for six games in a 10-game stretch (three at Cincinnati, three at Wrigley, sandwiched around a series in New York with the Mets). By that time I expect the Reds to be ensconced in fourth place in the N.L. Central and be exploring trade opportunities for the likes of Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.
At the moment, though, the Reds find themselves tied for second place with the Cardinals at 8-7. Since we last saw them, they lost two of three to St. Louis and won two of three from the Rockies, which means:
Reds vs. Cardinals, Pirates & Cubs: 3-6 Reds vs. all other teams: 5-1
We won't see Jumbo Diaz in this series, as the Reds sent him to Triple-A earlier this week. Diaz is most famous for this Triple-A play in 2012:
It might have happened almost four years ago, but it's still worth watching.
Thursday: Jake Arrieta (3-0, 1.23 ERA, 0.773 WHIP, 2.67 FIP) vs. Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 2.04 ERA, 1.019 WHIP, 4.40 FIP)
Friday: Jon Lester (1-1, 2.21 ERA, 0.836 WHIP, 3.04 FIP) vs. Jon Moscot (0-0, 4.76 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 7.98 FIP)
Saturday: John Lackey (3-0, 3.66 ERA, 1.169 WHIP, 2.89 FIP) vs. Dan Straily (0-0, 2.70 ERA, 0.825 WHIP, 4.01 FIP)
Sunday: Jason Hammel (2-0, 1.00 ERA, 1.111 WHIP, 2.70 FIP) vs. Alfredo Simon (0-1, 12.15 ERA, 2.550 WHIP, 7.39 FIP)
The Cubs bring their top four starters to this series. The Reds ... well, they don't. Finnegan pitched well against the Cubs at Wrigley, but the rest of that rotation... let's just say if the Reds have to start Straily, they're probably in trouble. I'm going to say the Cubs will win three of four this weekend. In fact, I'll be kind of disappointed if they don't.
The Cubs have an off day Monday, then return to Wrigley Field to begin a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday night.