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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Nationals series preview

The Cubs welcome to Wrigley a team that had a big selloff at this year’s trade deadline.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals were having a rough season even before they unloaded Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the trading deadline.

Somewhat surprisingly, their first post-deadline game against the Mets (started by Jacob deGrom in his return to action) resulted in a Washington win — and ex-Cub Cory Abbott threw five scoreless innings for the Nats in that game — but the Nats have not won since then.

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

There are plenty of frustrated fans in the nation’s capital these days, a year-plus into the organizational reboot the Nationals kicked off with a sell-off of expiring deals (and a year-plus of Trea Turner) at the trade deadline in 2021.

The plan, at least initially, was to build the next contender in the nation’s capital around 23-year-old slugger Juan Soto, but as it became increasingly clear to the club Soto and his agent Scott Boras intended to eventually go to free agency, and after he turned down a 15-year/$440M offer, citing the “low” AAV, GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office in D.C. decided to explore their options, considering trade possibilities, and when the San Diego Padres met the bar the Nationals set for teams with a legitimate interest in acquiring two and a half years of prime Soto, Rizzo dealt him for what the team believes was a reboot-accelerating haul of five top prospects from the Padres’ well-regarded system (and also a veteran bat in Luke Voit).

Selling the plan to a fan base three frustrating seasons removed from a World Series title, with few remaining names on the roster from the championship club, has not been easy, though Rizzo keeps on telling everyone there is a blueprint from the last time he and his staff did this (in 2009-12).

There is some legitimate, young, up-and-coming talent in the organization now, though it isn’t easy (or much fun) watching the major league club this summer.

More potential members of a future club which can contend for a division to title or for a postseason berth should be up over the next month-plus, but the present for the Nationals is dreadful, with losses piling up and fans tuning out, and it’s hard to blame them, though the plan the team has put in place has led to an improved minor league system after two trade deadline hauls, and a couple first-year draft and international signing classes have bolstered the talent level in the minors, but the top talents are young and the future is not necessarily now, but still a few seasons away at this point.

Fun fact

The Cubs won three of four from the Nats at Wrigley Field last year. Of the 10 pitchers who recorded a win, loss or save in that series, just two (Keegan Thompson and Justin Steele) are still on their team’s active roster.

Probable pitching matchups

Monday: Keegan Thompson, RHP (8-5, 3.48 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 3.98 FIP) vs. Anibal Sanchez, RHP (0-4, 7.65 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 7.01 FIP)

Tuesday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (3-5, 4.00 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 3.76 FIP) vs. Paolo Espino, RHP (0-4, 4.20 ERA, 1.274 WHIP, 4.96 FIP)

Wednesday: Justin Steele, LHP (4-7, 3.67 ERA, 1.411 WHIP, 3.34 FIP) vs. Josiah Gray, RHP (7-8, 4.92 ERA, 1.311 WHIP, 5.71 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

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


I generally resist predicting sweeps, but it’s certainly possible for the Cubs to sweep this series. They’ve been playing better at home recently and the Nats are 19-34 in road games (and 4-12 on the road since July 5). Not only that, look at the pitching matchups — they all seem favorable to the Cubs.

So I’ll just say the Cubs absolutely should win at least two of these games. Also, six of the Cubs’ next nine games are against the Nationals, as they will face them again next week in Washington.

Up next

The Cubs face the Reds in a three-game series. The first of the three games will be the Field of Dreams game Thursday in Dyersville, Iowa. Then after an off day Friday, the teams will play two games in Cincinnati Saturday and Sunday.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    (25 votes)
  • 55%
    (55 votes)
  • 12%
    (12 votes)
  • 8%
    (8 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now