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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds series preview

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The Cubs begin an important road trip in the home of a divisional rival.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cubs are 5-7 so far against the Reds this year, 2-4 in Cincinnati. That’s very different from the last four seasons, and the Reds have been a better team in 2019.

They’ve also made a major trade since the Cubs last saw them. For more on that and other updates on the Reds, here’s Wick Terrell, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

The last week and a half has seen the sub-.500 Cincinnati Reds trade away Scooter Gennett, Yasiel Puig, and top prospect Taylor Trammell, and somehow, their offense has improved dramatically. Unsung prospects Josh VanMeter and Aristides Aquino have taken the roster by storm, as has former first-rounder Phil Ervin, another unheralded bat at this juncture of his career.

Somehow, though, the mix and match nature and effectively platooning have been working wonders for that section of the Reds roster, and the result is that the offense has gone from largely dormant to the club that has scored the sixth-most runs in baseball since the All-Star break.

Then, there’s the starting pitching, which is now as talented and deep as it may have ever been in Cincinnati after the acquisition of Trevor Bauer (for Trammell) and the welcoming back of Alex Wood. Paired with Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo, that’s a formidable foursome for this weekend’s series against the Cubs, and considering this is the biggest August series the Reds will have played over the last six years, that’s certainly reason for optimism.

Yes, the Reds are four games under .500. Yes, they’re seven games back in the NL Central, and yes, they’re four games back of the second Wild Card spot. Still, they’re not completely vanquished yet, and it seems the moves, trades, and promotions they’ve doled out in the last few weeks have them playing their best baseball of the season. They’re 8-3 over their last 11 games, and have won four of their last five series — the lone non-victory being a split of a four-game set in Atlanta against the red-hot Braves.

I’m not saying the Reds are going places in 2019, but they sure as heck haven’t folded up shop just yet, and if ever there was a miracle up their sleeve for this season, this weekend’s Reds/Cubs series is where we’d need to see it to believe it.

Fun fact

The Reds, as noted by Wick Terrell, are four games under .500 at 54-58. That’s with a run differential of +37, which gives them a Pythagorean record of 60-52. Six games under a team’s Pythagorean projection at this point in the season is a lot.

Pitching matchups

Thursday: Cole Hamels, LHP (6-3, 2.84 ERA, 1.185 WHIP, 3.46 FIP) vs. Alex Wood, LHP (1-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.147 WHIP, 5.60 FIP)

Friday: Yu Darvish, RHP (4-5, 4.36 ERA, 1.214 WHIP, 4.65 FIP) vs. Trevor Bauer, RHP (9-8, 3.85 ERA, 1.240 WHIP, 4.15 FIP in 25 overall starts; 0-0, 5.79 ERA, 2.143 WHIP, 4.08 FIP in one start with Reds)

Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (8-8, 3.06 ERA, 1.089 WHIP, 3.67 FIP) vs. Sonny Gray, RHP (6-6, 3.25 ERA, 1.134 WHIP, 3.46 FIP)

Sunday: Jon Lester, LHP (9-8, 4.46 ERA, 1.407 WHIP, 4.15 FIP) vs. Luis Castillo, RHP (11-4, 2.63 ERA, 1.102 WHIP, 3.71 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Thursday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Friday: 6:10 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

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

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

Prediction

I am very hesitant these days about road series. But, apart from Jon Lester, the other Cubs starters going in this set have been very good lately. That will help the Cubs take three of four.

Up next

The Cubs have Monday off, then travel to Philadelphia for a three-game series against the Phillies beginning Tuesday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    4
    (42 votes)
  • 33%
    3
    (113 votes)
  • 40%
    2
    (140 votes)
  • 8%
    1
    (29 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (18 votes)
342 votes total Vote Now