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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Reds series preview

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The Reds make their first 2021 visit to Wrigley Field.

Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Cubs lost two of three to the Reds in Cincinnati as April turned to May. Since that series, the Cubs have been hot (15-6) and the Reds not (9-12). For more on the Reds, here’s Wick Terrell, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.

The 2021 batch of Cincinnati Reds baseball was going to have to thread a very, very thin needle to have success. That was by design as their winter saw them wave goodbye to top flight starting pitching, their best relievers, and the only true shortstop on the roster, doing basically nothing to address the holes created by their departures.

So, it’s no surprise that after that debacle, there has been a serious depth issue as they’ve run into an inevitable spate of injuries. With each of Joey Votto, Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel, Shogo Akiyama, Wade Miley, and Michael Lorenzen banged up for significant portions of the season already, the Reds have been trying to limp by leaning on a lot of names that are, in all honesty, barely backups at best. The overall result has been predictable — after a brilliant 6-1 start to the season, they’ve gone just 16-25 since then (at the time of this writing), with a brutal 1-6 homestand still fresh in mind.

The reality is that Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos have been absolutely brilliant, littering the tops of almost every offensive leaderboard in the game, and the Reds simply haven’t been able to support their efforts. Luis Castillo and Eugenio Suarez have been shockingly dreadful, while much of the patchwork pitching the club hoped would magically appear through the work of pitching coach Derek Johnson, Kyle Boddy, and the Driveline team hasn’t panned out.

So, they’re scuffling. On paper, it’s an excellent time for the Cubs to face them, with a rookie scheduled for his first big league start on Friday, Castillo Saturday, and a big question mark Sunday on the docket. I’m waiting to be proven wrong by them in some surprising fashion at some point soon, but the reality is that’s not likely to happen this weekend.

Fun fact

Despite their troubles, the Reds have the top two hitters in the National League by OPS entering this series: Jesse Winker (1.080) and Nick Castellanos (1.070). The Cubs’ Kris Bryant is third (1.009).

Pitching matchups

Friday: Adbert Alzolay, RHP (2-4, 4.30 ERA, 0.864 WHIP, 4.36 FIP) vs. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP (MLB debut)

Saturday: Zach Davies, RHP (2-2, 4.96 ERA, 1.721 WHIP, 5.05 FIP) vs. Luis Castillo RHP (1-7, 7.61 ERA, 1.796 WHIP, 4.76 FIP)

Sunday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (5-4, 4.37 ERA, 1.289 WHIP, 4.86 FIP) vs. TBD

Times & TV channels

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

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

With the Reds scuffling and the Cubs on a roll, the Cubs should take two of three.

Up next

The Cubs host the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Monday afternoon.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    3
    (64 votes)
  • 55%
    2
    (112 votes)
  • 9%
    1
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    0
    (7 votes)
203 votes total Vote Now