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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Nationals series preview

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There will be a lot of familiar faces in the visiting dugout at Wrigley Field this week.

Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

As you’ll see below, this will be Reunion Week at Wrigley Field with so many former Cubs players and staff coming back to the North Side. (FWIW, there is exactly one former member of the Nationals on this year’s Cubs. Third base coach Willie Harris played for Washington from 2008-10.)

For more on the Nats, here’s Patrick Reddington, who runs our SB Nation Nationals site Federal Baseball:

It hasn’t been easy to get a handle on what to make of the 2021 Nationals over the first six weeks of the season. A bunch of players ended up on the COVID IL at the start of the year, then starter Patrick Corbin struggled out of the gate before seemingly straightening things out in recent outings, Stephen Strasburg got injured, again, and has made just two starts, Juan Soto missed 10 games with a shoulder issue, and the club has struggled to score runs while getting some uneven pitching performances out of the starters and bullpen.

Heading into play on Sunday, the Nationals were 27th in the majors in runs scored, and their .254 AVG as a team was the fourth-best in the majors, their OBP as a team (.323) was in the top 10, (8th), and their SLG (.397) was 14th, but they’ve struggled to drive in runners, with a .219 AVG with runners in scoring position on the season, which was 27th in the majors as of Sunday morning.

Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber, both of whom were on the COVID IL early, are starting to show signs of life after slow starts, which should make a big difference, and Soto is back and seemingly healthy, so the three of them, who are in the middle of the lineup, on most nights, could provide a big boost to the offense if they can get hot at the plate.

Strasburg just made a rehab start at Triple-A on Sunday, and he’s expected to be back in the majors (barring any setbacks) in the near future, so maybe we’ll get a better idea of what the rotation they assembled this winter can do over the next few weeks.

But first, Jon Lester, Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro, and Davey Martinez get to return to the Friendly Confines for a reunion in Wrigley Field.

Fun fact

There are even more former Cubs are part of the Nationals active roster or coaching staff than Patrick mentioned. In addition to Lester, Schwarber and Castro, Alex Avila played for the Cubs in 2019. And beyond Martinez, coaches Henry Blanco and Jim Hickey were once on Cubs coaching staffs (and Blanco played for the Cubs). Another ex-Cub, Welington Castillo, was in spring training with the Nats and is currently with their Triple-A club in Rochester.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Adbert Alzolay, RHP (1-3, 4.50 ERA, 0.875 WHIP, 4.14 FIP) vs. Jon Lester, LHP (0-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, 3.17 FIP)

Tuesday: Zach Davies, RHP (2-2, 5.60 ERA, 1.783 WHIP, 5.00 FIP) vs. Patrick Corbin, LHP (2-3, 6.19 ERA, 1.376 WHIP, 6.41 FIP)

Wednesday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (4-3, 4.10 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, 5.12 FIP) vs. Max Scherzer, RHP (3-2, 2.10 ERA, 0.760 WHIP, 3.07 FIP)

Thursday: Trevor Williams, RHP (2-2, 6.27 ERA, 1.818 WHIP, 5.06 FIP) vs. Joe Ross, RHP (2-3, 5.80 ERA, 1.458 WHIP, 5.87 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Tuesday: 6:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 6:40 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Nationals market territories)

Thursday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Nationals market territories)

Prediction

Those Cubs starter ERAs and FIPs are pretty ghastly. But then, they are as well for a couple of the Nats starters. I wish Jon Lester nothing but the best... AFTER his start on Monday.

This looks like a series that will split, so that’s what I’ll predict.

Up next

The Cubs get their first 2021 look at their arch-rivals, the Cardinals, in a three-game series in St. Louis beginning Friday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    4
    (18 votes)
  • 29%
    3
    (68 votes)
  • 40%
    2
    (95 votes)
  • 16%
    1
    (38 votes)
  • 6%
    0
    (14 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now