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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds series preview

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In the past, Cubs bats have come alive at Great American Ballpark.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs and Reds normally would have played quite a bit at this stage of the season, but after 71 regular-season games, these division rivals have met just six times.

So I asked Wick Terrell, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter, to update us on his team.

Through Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Tigers, the Cincinnati Reds sit 7-4 over their previous 11 games, and for seemingly the first time in an epoch, they’ve got their starting pitching to thank.

Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle have both strung together a series of solid starts, with the former having allowed just 1 ER in his last pair of starts (15⅓ IP) while the latter has allowed just 2 ER in the month of June (3 GS, 16⅓ IP). That, paired with the so-far-successful return to the rotation of Anthony DeSclafani, has actually given a semblance of decency to the rotation, and the lineup has generally been good enough to make for a half-decent looking group of late.

Those position players, by the way, look the part of an above-average group, all told. Scott Schebler has thrived since being moved to the leadoff spot, and the middle of the order has been rock solid with Joey Votto (139 OPS+), Scooter Gennett (144 OPS+), and Eugenio Suarez (155 OPS+) all playing All Star caliber ball. Even Jose Peraza has found his offense, as he’s hit .333/.381/.385 over his last 20 games (84 PA).

These Reds are no juggernaut, but they’re certainly a far cry from the club that started the season a miserable 3-18 — heck, they’ve nearly played .500 ball in the 51 games since that awful, awful beginning, which was roughly the kind of winning we’d hoped to see from them throughout 2018.

Fun fact

Barring a postponement in this series, after Sunday the Cubs will not return to Cincinnati until 2019 — and the Reds have not yet played their first 2018 game at Wrigley Field. (That happens Friday, July 6.)

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (5-6, 3.55 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 4.64 FIP) vs. Matt Harvey, RHP (1-5, 5.92 ERA, 1.380 WHIP, 5.30 FIP. With Reds: 1-3, 5.09 ERA, 1.245 WHIP, 5.13 FIP)

Friday: Jose Quintana, LHP (6-5, 4.06 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 4.28 FIP) vs. Luis Castillo, RHP (4-8, 5.77 ERA, 1.436 WHIP, 5.17 FIP)

Saturday: TBD vs. Anthony DeSclafani, RHP (2-1, 4.60 ERA, 1.468 WHIP, 4.44 FIP)

Sunday: TBD vs. Sal Romano, RHP (4-7, 5.18 ERA, 1.450 WHIP, 5.16 FIP)

Due to Monday’s rainout and the fact that Tyler Chatwood’s wife Veronica is about to give birth to the couple’s first child, the Cubs are uncertain who will start this weekend at this writing. One of the starts could go to former Red Luke Farrell; the other might be Chatwood’s, or they could go with the proverbial “bullpen game.”

On the other hand, if this weather forecast for the weekend turns out to be correct, the Cubs could avoid any rotation issues because one or more of these games is postponed.

As noted above, the Cubs are not scheduled to return to Cincinnati this year. The teams have common off days August 9 and September 13 for any needed makeup dates.

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Cincinnati markets)

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

Saturday: 3:10 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago

Sunday: 12:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Prediction

The Cubs have allowed 3.53 runs per game, best in the National League. The Reds have allowed 5.18 runs per game, second-worst in the National League. Despite the Reds’ somewhat better play recently (noted above), that pitching staff should be good for Cubs hitters to feast on. Even with the Cubs rotation up in the air for this series, they should be able to take three of four.

Up next

More Dodgers! The Cubs head to Los Angeles for a four-game series against the Dodgers beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    4
    (88 votes)
  • 55%
    3
    (189 votes)
  • 13%
    2
    (47 votes)
  • 1%
    1
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    0
    (13 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now