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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds series preview

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The Cubs return to NL Central play.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Reds had lost nine of 13 before they swept a doubleheader from the Brewers Thursday. Thinking along those lines, Wick Terrell, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter, sent me these thoughts about his team:

If I had written this Thursday morning, the tone would’ve been of irrelevance. It would have mentioned the looming trade deadline, Trevor Bauer’s pending free agency, what the Cincinnati Reds should do with David Bell, and how this is what you get from finally spending money in free agency.

This is 2020, though, and it’s amazing what a matter of hours will do to your psyche.

The Reds are fresh off a doubleheader sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, one that both salvaged their road trip (a bit) and gave one more breath back into a season that still has enough time to maybe, maybe sneak into an expanded playoffs — and once a team gets there, everything is again on the table.

2020 has so far been a frustrating year for these Reds, a club who still boasts elite starting pitching and a lineup that should, in theory, be potent enough, but it just hasn’t come together for extended periods just yet. There have been notable absences, with Mike Moustakas sidelined for a time with a bad quad and a COVID scare and Nick Senzel twice out with COVID related issues, but there is still the sense that the Reds are 13-17 having never once played their best potential brand of baseball. If we’d seen that kind of play and their record was where it is, there would be laser-eyes pointed at the front office and manager. That we haven’t seen anything approaching their potential means we’re now staring firmly at the calendar, more than anything, as the Reds are running out of time to put it all together.

This weekend series against the Cubs will pretty well define the Reds season, especially with the deadline on Monday. Four games in three days, with a litany of deadline directions they could pursue in the balance. Wednesday, I’d have said they were toast. After Thursday, with the top to bottom performance fresh in mind, there’s actually a chance I think these Reds could pull off a pretty good run in the coming days, which admittedly reads as a kiss of death after reading three, four, five times.

Of course, it’ll help that they’ll be playing in a GABP that’s not 80% Cubs fans all weekend, too.

Fun fact

The Cubs took two of three from the Reds at GABP last month. It was their first series win in Cincinnati since May 2018.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (3-3, 3.55 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 3.37 FIP) vs. Tyler Mahle (0-1, 4.41 ERA, 1.347 WHIP, 4.02 FIP)

Saturday: Yu Darvish, RHP (5-1, 1.70 ERA, 0.919 WHIP, 2.13 FIP) vs. TBD and TBD vs. TBD

Sunday: TBD vs. TBD

Lots of “TBD” there. It seems likely that Adbert Alzolay will be recalled from South Bend for one of the doubleheader games, and either Tyler Chatwood or Jose Quintana will start Sunday. For the Reds, Luis Castillo likely goes in one of the doubleheader games. The only thing we know for sure is that we won’t see Sonny Gray or Wade Miley, as they both started in the Reds doubleheader at Milwaukee on Thursday.

Times & TV channels

Friday: 6:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Saturday: 3:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network. Both games on MLB Network outside Cubs and Reds market territories (MLBN will carry the Reds broadcast from Fox Sports Ohio)

Sunday: 12:10 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

While Wick Terrell sees his team on an upswing, they have been mediocre at home (5-7). The Cubs should be able to take three of four here.

Up next

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

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    4
    (12 votes)
  • 26%
    3
    (32 votes)
  • 39%
    2
    (47 votes)
  • 17%
    1
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (8 votes)
120 votes total Vote Now