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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks series preview

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The Cubs are catching the D-backs on a downslide. Can they make it continue?

Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

On August 31, the Diamondbacks were in first place in the N.L. West with a one-game lead.

They’re 4-11 in September and have fallen to to 4½ games back and into third place.

To explain all this, I asked Jim McLennan, the manager of our SB Nation D-backs site AZ Snakepit, to update us on his team.

Things have gone radically south for the Diamondbacks since the last time these two teams met. Arizona is only 22-24 over that time, and has struggled in particular over the last few weeks. Through their just-completed series in Houston, they haven’t won a series since sweeping the Angels in a two-game set on August 22, and haven’t won consecutive games in September.

The problems have been both an offense which has struggled to score runs and a bullpen that has all but collapsed. Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley, the late-inning workhorses in the first half, have both been relegated to lower-leverage work, but replacement Yoshihisa Hirano blew his second save opportunity. Paul Goldschmidt still anchors the offense, but the team has struggled badly with runners in scoring position, and is getting underwhelming results from off-season acquisitions Steven Souza Jr. and Alex Avila.

The D-backs sit on the very fringes of the wild-card race as we enter the last couple of weeks. Hope may not have been entirely extinguished yet, but it has been reduced to a feeble flame: that’s a severe disappointment, given the season started with so much promise in April. Although with games against not just the Cubs, but also the Rockies and Dodgers, the Diamondbacks may still have something of a say in who makes it to the postseason from the National League. It’s just not likely to be Arizona.

Fun fact

Historically, the Cubs have not done well at Chase Field, but are 6-4 there since Joe Maddon took over as manager in 2015.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (11-11, 3.71 ERA, 1.208 WHIP, 3.89 FIP) vs. Patrick Corbin, LHP (11-5, 3.05 ERA, 1.027 WHIP, 2.40 FIP)

Tuesday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (4-5, 3.87 ERA, 1.361 WHIP, 3.94 FIP) vs. TBD

Wednesday: Cole Hamels, LHP (4-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.099 WHIP, 3.12 FIP) vs. Robbie Ray, LHP (5-2, 4.14 ERA, 1.344 WHIP, 4.34 FIP)

NOTE: Hamels’ numbers above are with the Cubs only. Overall in 2018: 29 starts, 9-9, 3.67 ERA, 1.282 WHIP, 4.50 FIP

Times & TV channels

Monday: 8:40 p.m. CT, WGN

Tuesday: 8:40 p.m. CT, WGN

Wednesday: 8:40 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Prediction

The D-backs are in free fall, and are barely over .500 at home (37-35). In fact, they have lost six of their last nine home games. This series, which should be played in front of a large contingent of Cubs fans, could feel like home games for the Cubs as they at last finish up their 30-day odyssey that has taken them from Detroit to Chicago to Atlanta to Philadelphia to Milwaukee to Washington to Chicago to Washington to Chicago to Phoenix. The Cubs will win two of three.

Up next

The Cubs have Thursday off — their first off day since August 20. They return to Chicago to take on the White Sox in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon, and will play the rest of the regular season within the city of Chicago.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Diamondbacks?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    3
    (66 votes)
  • 56%
    2
    (220 votes)
  • 19%
    1
    (76 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (24 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now