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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds Series Preview

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Get used to seeing these guys.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

We're going to be seeing a lot of the Cincinnati Reds over the next couple of weeks. Six of the Cubs' next 10 games are against the Reds, starting with this series in Cincinnati. I asked Brandon Kraeling, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter, to update us on his team since the last time we saw them.

This Reds team is one without much of an identity right now, and very much in transition. The usual names you’ve come to associate with the Reds lineup have been largely underperforming this season, as Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips are turning in seasons that aren’t up to their usual standards. At the end of the day, though, this Reds offense isn’t that bad at the moment, with Adam Duvall leading the league in homers (going into Sunday’s game), and the likes of Zack Cozart and Jay Bruce turning in career seasons. This might not last too much longer, though, as Cozart and Bruce are both rumored to be hot commodities at the trade deadline, with plenty of teams looking for bats and top prospects Jose Peraza and Jesse Winker waiting in the wings for everyday jobs.  

The Reds pitching staff is also in a transition phase, but that’s more injury-based than it is performance-based. The Reds have had 6 starting pitchers on the DL this year, and are finally getting innings out of John Lamb and Anthony DeSclafani, both important arms coming into this season. Homer Bailey’s still on his way, and the Reds have enjoyed reinforcements in the likes of top prospect Cody Reed, who made his debut last week, and Robert Stephenson, who has made two spot starts so far this year and could become a permanent fixture in the Reds’ rotation sooner rather than later.   

Of course, this glut of starters has meant that a few have made their way to the bullpen, which was much needed. The Reds set the record for bullpen futility earlier this year, recording 21 games in a row with a run given up. They’ve tried just about everything there at this point, but should get some stability in the form of Raisel Iglesias, the Opening Day starter who is now in middle relief trying to limit his innings and ease some of the bullpen pressure. Former starters Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani are also now plying their trade in the bullpen, allowing the Reds to dump a couple of the arms that haven’t been performing.

Fun fact

The Reds are allowing an average of 5.78 runs per game. If they keep that up all year, they would become just the 11th team in MLB history to allow more than 900 runs in a season and only the fourth since the 1930s (current pace: 936). No team has done this since the 2003 Rangers and none in the N.L. since the 1999 Rockies.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (11-2, 1.74 ERA, 0.980 WHIP, 2.51 FIP) vs. Dan Straily, RHP (4-4, 3.83 ERA, 1.169 WHIP, 4.34 FIP)

Tuesday: Jon Lester, LHP (9-3, 2.10 ERA, 1.003 WHIP, 3.20 FIP) vs. John Lamb, LHP (1-4, 4.78 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 5.24 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (5-6, 2.76 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, 3.36 FIP) vs. Cody Reed, LHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 1.667 WHIP, 5.13 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:10 p.m. CT, WGN

Tuesday: 6:10 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Wednesday: 11:35 a.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

No overconfidence here, as the Cubs are going through a very rough time. On the other hand, the Reds have the worst run differential in the majors (-115) and have lost eight of their last 11. The Cubs should right the ship here by taking two of three.

Up next

The Cubs head to New York for a four-game series against the Mets beginning Thursday evening.