The San Diego Padres come into Wrigley Field riding a seven-game losing streak and with the worst record in the National League. At 42-68, they are on pace for a 62-100 season, which would be the sixth 100-loss season in franchise history, though the first since 1993.
They are last in the N.L. in runs scored and third-worst in runs allowed. They are bad in night games (30-48, .385) and worse in day games (12-20, .375). They went 5-20 in July, which was their worst calendar month since their first year of existence, when they went 5-22 in August 1969.
On June 15 they were 34-38 and only 6½ games out of first place in the N.L. West. Since then? 8-30, with three separate losing streaks of at least five games, including the current seven-gamer. The Cubs swept them in San Diego three weeks ago, part of one of those losing streaks, and scored 23 runs in the three games.
This has the classic look of a “trap” series, one in which you look at a really bad team playing poorly and think, “Hey, the Cubs ought to sweep this!” And indeed, they have a chance to do that.
I’m certain Joe Maddon won’t let his players look at this series that way. I hope that when all’s said and done, the Cubs will have swept it. (Not predicting that, see below.)
This is a series where the Cubs should have some fun with the bats, though.
The Cubs have had a winning record against the Padres only once since 2008 — in 2016, when they went 4-2 against them. One win in this series would clinch a winning record for 2018.
Thursday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (3-4, 4.03 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 4.10 FIP) vs. Robbie Erlin, LHP (1-3, 3.47 ERA, 0.972 WHIP, 3.31 FIP)
Friday: Jose Quintana, LHP (9-7, 4.26 ERA, 1.421 WHIP, 4.68 FIP) vs. Tyson Ross, RHP (6-8, 4.41 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, 4.48 FIP)
Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7-9, 3.97 ERA, 1.220 WHIP, 4.38 FIP) vs. Joey Lucchesi, LHP (5-6, 3.74 ERA, 1.260 WHIP, 4.58 FIP)
Sunday: Jon Lester, LHP (12-4, 3.22 ERA, 1.265 WHIP, 4.66 FIP) vs. TBD
(NOTE: Eric Lauer, whose rotation turn would have come up Sunday, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a forearm strain. Our old buddy Clayton Richard could make the start Sunday on normal rest, but as of posting time the Padres had not announced a Sunday starter.)
Times & TV channels
Thursday: 7:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago
Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and San Diego markets)
Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago
Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, WGN
Since the N.L. split into three divisions in 1994, the Cubs have not done well vs. the Padres — 92-95 overall. They’ve won six games from them four times, back when the teams played nine times a year, last in 1999.
But I’m going to predict that they will accomplish that this year by winning three of four, and going 6-1 in the season series.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Padres?
This poll is closed