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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Giants Series Preview

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One of these teams could turn around a mediocre start this week. Hopefully, that’s the Cubs.

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs and Giants, both 2016 postseason teams, have both struggled early this season. As I traditionally do when these teams meet, I asked my friend Grant Brisbee, who runs our SB Nation Giants site McCovey Chronicles, to say a few words about his team.

The last time I was here, the question before the assembled was this: Are the Giants any good? It was a mystery because the Giants finished the first half with baseball’s best record, and then they set themselves on fire in the second half.

The answer: inconclusive. The Giants made the postseason and advanced, and they were a normal bullpen away from having a chance to make the NLCS. I still don’t know if the 2016 Giants were any good. They were weird. I’ll give them that much.

This year, the question is the same but the answer is a little different. Are the Giants good? Probably not, but I’m willing to be surprised. They’re comfortably under .500 still, even after winning their last two series against a pair of contenders, and thanks to a bunch of blowouts, they’re overachieving their Pythagorean record.

The thing of it is, though, that almost every single player on the Giants is underachieving. Buster Posey is doing fine. Brandon Belt is hitting roughly as well as anyone should expect, if just a smidgen worse. Mark Melancon has been the pitcher the Giants expected., even though he’s blown a couple saves, and Derek Law and Hunter Strickland have been solid. Every other player is doing worse. We’re talking 20 players out of the 25-man roster, not including the players flitting between the majors and minors, and not including the players who are hurt.

When 20 of your 25 players are, at any given time, disappointing the heck out of you, your season probably isn’t a lot of fun.

They’ve turned it around recently, hitting more homers and “winning” baseball games. The question will probably be the same for the next year or so, but the answer has a chance to move from “Probably not, but I’m willing to be surprised” back to “Dunno.”

I’ll take “dunno.” Man, how I’ve missed it.

Fun fact

Since the beginning of the 2015 season, the Cubs and Giants have played 10 games at Wrigley Field (including the two in the division series last year). The Cubs have won nine of those 10 games, and the only loss was a one-run decision to Madison Bumgarner last year, and of course he won’t be appearing in this series.

Pitching matchups

Monday: John Lackey, RHP (4-3, 4.37 ERA, 1.352 WHIP, 4.60 FIP) vs. Ty Blach, LHP (1-2, 4.15 ERA, 1.183 WHIP, 4.48 FIP)

Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (3-2, 3.35 ERA, 1.226 WHIP, 4.35 FIP) vs. Johnny Cueto, RHP (4-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.259 WHIP, 3.92 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (2-2, 3.57 ERA, 1.377 WHIP, 3.47 FIP) vs. Matt Moore, LHP (2-4, 5.37 ERA, 1.519 WHIP, 4.63 FIP)

Thursday: Eddie Butler, RHP (1-0, 2.00 ERA, 1.444 WHIP, 3.93 FIP) vs. Jeff Samardzija, RHP (1-5, 4.57 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 2.89 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, WGN, MLB Network (outside Chicago and San Francisco markets)

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, ESPN

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Thursday: 1:20 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and San Francisco markets)

Prediction

The Giants got off to a horrific start and 11 days ago were 12-24 and 11 games out of first place. Since then, though, they’ve won seven of nine and took two of three from the Cardinals in St. Louis, for which we thank them.

The Cubs have started off the current homestand well, going 4-1 against teams they really should beat. The Giants are a better team than either the Reds or Brewers, and if the Cubs are going to begin to make their move in the N.L. Central, they really need to win three of four.

So I’m going to say they’ll do that. In the 4-1 homestand the Cubs have outscored the opposition 41-26 (and that was 41-21 before the ridiculous ninth inning on Sunday). If the Cubs keep the bats going, they can take three of four.

Up next

The Cubs head out to California for their first West Coast swing of 2017. They’ll begin a three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles Friday night. (I’m guessing Grant and other Giants fans will be rooting for the Cubs this coming weekend.)

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Giants?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    4
    (31 votes)
  • 47%
    3
    (113 votes)
  • 34%
    2
    (82 votes)
  • 3%
    1
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    0
    (4 votes)
239 votes total Vote Now