Much has happened since the Cubs split two games (and had one rained out) in Cincinnati in early April. The Cubs got off to a hot start, the Reds didn’t, but both teams have played a bit better this week.
For more on the Reds, here’s Wick Terrell, manager of our SB Nation Reds site Red Reporter.
The Cincinnati Reds traded away Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo,and Tyler Mahle before and during the 2022 Major League Baseball season. The thought was that they’d backfill the rotation with emerging arms like Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, and Graham Ashcraft while rebuilding — a thought that, on paper, maybe had a smidge of merit.
Lodolo is now hurt, Greene’s allowed 17 earned runs in 22 innings in the month of May, and Ashcraft has somehow been worse than both, and the threadbare rotation that was by design from the outset now finds itself in scramble mode already with over 110 games remaining in the season.
The Chicago Cubs are going to get both Greene and Ashcraft this series, with walk-prone rookie Brandon Williamson sandwiched in between them. It’s taken me this deep into this brief series preview to mention that the Cincinnati Reds are once again in last place, but the preface itself likely drew your mind there without the help of printed out standings anyway.
Look, this is a Reds club that’s where it is by design. There are no veteran stalwarts on the pitching staff, and it’s likely that the best hitters in the entire franchise not named Jonathan India are still parked at Triple-A Louisville. Elly De La Cruz and Christian Encarnacion-Strand will be up soon, of course, but not for this series at Wrigley. As a result, it will feature a Reds club that’s devoid of power at the plate and in desperate need of any sort of competence from their starting rotation, a combo that screams maybe they’ll get lucky with some small ball for the most optimistic of fans.
Surely that means they’ll take two out of three.
The Cubs need two wins to reach 1,200 in their history against this iteration of the Reds, who began play in 1882 in the American Association and joined the National League in 1890. The Cubs have won 1,260 vs. the Cardinals, 1,259 vs. the Pirates, 1,248 vs. the Braves and 1,243 vs. the Phillies. They won’t reach 1,200 against the two remaining pre-expansion teams for quite a while. They have 1,084 wins vs. the Giants and 1,050 vs. the Dodgers. Their most wins vs. an expansion team is 393, vs. the Mets. (Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)
Probable pitching matchups
Friday: Justin Steele, LHP (6-1, 2.20 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 2.95 FIP) vs. Hunter Greene, RHP (0-4, 4.68 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 3.98 FIP)
Saturday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (0-3, 8.10 ERA, 1.725 WHIP, 4.93 FIP) vs. Brandon Williamson, LHP (0-0, 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 5.88 FIP)
Sunday: Drew Smyly, LHP (5-1, 2.93 ERA, 0.976 WHIP, 3.60 FIP) vs. Graham Ashcraft, RHP (2-3, 5.57 ERA, 1.481 WHIP, 4.50 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Reds market territories)
Saturday: 6:15 p.m. CT, Fox-TV (regional — coverage map)
Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
These pitching matchups look good enough for the Cubs to take two of three.
The Cubs host the Tampa Bay Rays for a three-game series at Wrigley Field which begins Monday afternoon.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Reds?
This poll is closed