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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks series preview

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The Cubs host visitors from the N.L. West.

Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Cubs haven’t played the Diamondbacks in a regular-season game since last August, so I asked Jim McLennan, manager of our SB Nation D-backs site AZ Snakepit, to give us the rundown on how the D-backs are doing this year.

The D-backs come back from the break with hopes of a postseason spot very much alive, though things didn’t get easier with the Dodgers’ acquisition of Manny Machado. The team led the NL West for much of the first half, despite some major health issues: Taijuan Walker was lost to Tommy John, A.J. Pollock, Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. all missed significant time, while Paul Goldschmidt had the worst month of his career. But a strong bullpen helped carry the team, and Goldschmidt rebounded to win NL Player of the Month honors for June.

Remaining healthy will be key to the team’s success, but there are also concerns over the pitching, both starting and relief. The rotation depth is close to non-existent: Clay Buchholz will likely be the team’s fifth starter in the second half (and is expected to come off the DL and pitch Tuesday). Any more injuries there will be problematic. The bullpen is beginning to show signs of stress as well, and it would be no surprise if GM Mike Hazen looked to address either or both of those areas as Arizona approaches the trade deadline. His options will be limited, as the Arizona farm system is weak in impact prospects who could be trade chips, especially in the upper tiers.

On the hitting side, Pollock and Goldschmidt anchor the offense, with outfielder David Peralta and shortstop Nick Ahmed showing unexpected power, despite the humidor introduced this year at Chase Field. But both Souza and catcher Alex Avila need to hit better down the stretch, if the D-backs are to keep pace with the Dodgers in a tight division race, or simply compete for one of the league’s wild-card spots.

In addition to Avila, we’ll also see old friend Jon Jay during this series, although Jay has not hit well for Arizona (.213/.305/.309 in 136 at-bats since coming over in a June trade with the Royals).

Fun fact

Since the beginning of 2015, the Cubs are 12-7 against the Diamondbacks, including 6-3 at Wrigley Field.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Luke Farrell, RHP (3-3, 3.86 ERA, 1.357 WHIP, 4.79 FIP) vs. Patrick Corbin, LHP (6-4, 3.24 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, 2.82 FIP)

Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (6-8, 3.99 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, 4.61 FIP) vs. Clay Buchholz, RHP (2-1, 2.56 ERA, 0.957 WHIP, 3.52 FIP)

Wednesday: Jon Lester, LHP (12-3, 3.14 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, 4.66 FIP) vs. Robbie Ray, LHP (3-2, 5.37 ERA, 1.509 WHIP, 5.00 FIP)

Thursday: TBD vs. TBD

Well, that Thursday matchup is interesting. For the Cubs, Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery will both be on regular rest (four days) on Thursday. This is strictly a guess, but I’d think the Cubs wouldn’t want the Cardinals to see Chatwood twice in one week’s time, and that Montgomery might benefit from the extra day of rest, so it’s likely going to be Chatwood Thursday.

For the Diamondbacks, Thursday would be Zack Godley‘s turn, but the team has not officially announced a Thursday starter at the time this series preview posted.

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, ESPN (no blackouts)

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, WGN, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Phoenix markets)

Wednesday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Thursday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Phoenix markets)

Prediction

Despite the Cubs’ good record vs. Arizona at Wrigley, noted above, this team always worries me. Paul Goldschmidt just kills the Cubs — lifetime .361/.475/.729 (48-for-133) with 13 home runs. Stop him and you’ve probably stopped the D-backs.

Cubs starting pitching will have to step up. On the other hand, the D-backs were 47-34 and 3½ games in first place in the N.L. West on June 28, and are just 7-12 since then. (In that same time frame, the Cubs are 14-5.)

I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say the Cubs will take three of four.

And the sun has come out in Chicago and there’s no chance of rain until (maybe) Thursday.

Up next

The Cubs travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in a three-game series beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Diamondbacks?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    4
    (31 votes)
  • 35%
    3
    (141 votes)
  • 50%
    2
    (203 votes)
  • 4%
    1
    (17 votes)
  • 2%
    0
    (8 votes)
400 votes total Vote Now