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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds series preview

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This series would appear to be coming at a very good time for the Cubs.

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Ah, yes, the Reds, the team that’s been the Cubs’ favorite opponent for the last couple of years. This year’s version got off to a good start, was in first place as late as May 7 and four games over .500 at 19-15 a few days after that.

After that? Uh... not so much. Despite winning two of three from the Brewers this week, the Reds are 9-17 in June and since they swept a four-game series from the Cardinals earlier this month, they have lost 15 of 19.

I asked Brandon Kraeling, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter, to update us on his team.

The early optimism that the Reds showed has largely cooled, on both ends. On the offensive side, Billy Hamilton is once again struggling to get on base, and Jose Peraza probably wouldn’t be starting if they had someone else to play shortstop. It’s not helpful that Zack Cozart is hurt, but Scooter Gennett has been a nice surprise and is now a stalwart at the top of the Reds’ batting order.

The pitching has been bad. Again. Injuries and ineffectiveness have hurt the Reds, and it’s shown as they’ve already used 12 different starters. Most of the Reds pitchers have ERAs over 6, and the youth movement that started the season in the rotation has now settled as the rotation for Triple-A Louisville. The Bronson Arroyo experiment is finally over, and Homer Bailey is back but not pitching well. The Cubs will see arguably the two best Reds’ starters right now, as Scott Feldman has been largely solid and Tim Adleman is capable of spinning gems. The Reds’ bullpen has been not awful, but they’re being asked to do too much when starters can’t go more than 2-3 innings without blowing up.

With Brandon Finnegan injured (again), the Reds starter for Saturday will be Jackson Stephens. He’s the fifth starter and eighth pitcher overall to make his big-league debut for the Reds this year.

Fun fact

Since the beginning of 2015, the Cubs are 33-11 vs. the Reds and have outscored them by almost 100 runs (283-184). That includes a 17-5 mark against them at GABP in Cincinnati.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (1-4, 2.50 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, 3.64 FIP) vs. Scott Feldman, RHP (6-5, 4.07 ERA, 1.324 WHIP, 4.29 FIP)

Saturday: Eddie Butler, RHP (4-2, 3.71 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, 4.28 FIP) vs. Jackson Stephens, RHP (making his major-league debut)

Sunday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (7-6, 4.67 ERA, 1.365 WHIP, 4.16 FIP) vs. Tim Adleman, RHP (5-4, 4.62 ERA, 1.324 WHIP, 5.53 FIP)

Times & TV channels

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

Saturday: 3:10 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Sunday: 12:10 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

If the Cubs don’t take at least two of three here, they’re in trouble. The pitching matchups here mostly seem favorable, so I’ll predict two of three.

Up next

The Cubs have Monday off, then return to Wrigley Field for a two-game series against Joe Maddon’s old team, the Tampa Bay Rays. That will be followed by a makeup game against the Milwaukee Brewers, from the rainout on May 20.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    3
    (95 votes)
  • 42%
    2
    (94 votes)
  • 10%
    1
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (10 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now