Last year, the Red Sox came to Wrigley Field in early July. They were 10 games over .500 when that series began, and the Cubs were 16 games under. Nevertheless, the Cubs took two of three from Boston, and lost the third game in extra innings.
This is a much better Cubs team than that one was at that time. Here’s to starting the second half on a high note.
For more on the Red Sox, here’s Mike Carlucci, who is a contributor to our SB Nation Red Sox site Over The Monster.
The year was 2003 and baseball fans from coast to coast were getting excited. While nothing was certain, the way the ALCS and NLCS were going the country was about to see a Boston Red Sox vs Chicago Cubs World Series. A 1918 rematch. The two “cursed” teams were going to face off and one of them would have to return to the land of normal, “uncursed” franchises. Well, that didn’t happen and we are all worse for it. Both teams would end their championship droughts anyway. But now thanks to the new MLB sorta kinda balanced schedule, the Sox and Cubs will play a series every year! And because of scheduling quirks, the Sox visit Wrigley Field for the second straight season.
The Red Sox will send the young ace Brayan Bello to the mound on Friday. The 24-year old righty has a 3.04 ERA / 3.77 FIP on the season and hasn’t allowed more than two runs since June 5, when he allowed three.
James Paxton aka Big Maple gets the middle game of the series. The veteran southpaw is back in action for really the first time since 2019 as anything resembling his career. After missing almost all of 2021 and the entire 2022 season and the start of 2023 due to injury, Paxton is as hot as he’s ever been. While he allowed five runs to the Los Angels Angels on May 24th his other nine starts have seen run totals of two or fewer on eight occasions and three runs once.
Kutter Crawford will start the finale game of the series. Yes, he does throw a cutter. About 28 percent of the time this season. In seven starts since re-entering the rotation in June due to injuries he’s recorded a 4.70 ERA against a 3.93 FIP.
On the other side of the ball, newcomer and “rookie” Masataka Yoshida has impressed at the plate: .316/.382/.492. Speedy center fielder Jarren Duran has hit .320/.367/.519 with 16 steals. His theft total is somewhat limited by the 27 doubles already putting him into scoring position. The once and future king Rafael Devers has crushed 20 homers before the All-Star Break.
Boston has had a rough first half. Losing streaks, winning streaks, and injuries have placed the Sox last in the AL East — but with a .527 winning percentage and just one game from securing a Wild Card. Up really is down sometimes. The Sox have gone 31-25 against teams above .500 and 17-18 against teams below .500. From this point of view, the Cubs walk into the series with an advantage!
The Cubs have played only 18 regular-season games against the Red Sox, tied for their fewest against any current team. They also have played 18 against the Athletics, three of them this year, and 18 against the Blue Jays, whom they will play three times in Toronto next month. The Cubs played three games at Wrigley Field against the Red Sox last season, too.
Under the new scheduling format, this might be the last time they ever host an American League team other than the crosstown rival White Sox in consecutive seasons.
The Cubs welcomed the Orioles and Rays for series last year and this. They hosted both the Guardians and Twins in 2020 and 2021.
Those are the only previous times since interleague play began in 1997 that the Cubs have played any A.L. club at home in back-to-back years.
Here’s an oddity: The Cubs’ last series at Wrigley Field against the Astros was June 21-23, 2013. They have met in Houston three times since then: in 2016, 2019 and this year.
(Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)
Probable pitching matchups
Friday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (3-3, 3.04 ERA, 1.031 WHIP, 3.73 FIP) vs. Brayan Bello, RHP (6-5, 3.04 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 3.77 FIP)
Saturday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (9-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 3.41 FIP) vs. James Paxton, LHP (5-1, 2.73 ERA, 0.982 WHIP, 3.66 FIP)
Sunday: Justin Steele, LHP (9-2, 2.56 ERA, 1.062 WHIP, 2.86 FIP) vs. Kutter Crawford, RHP (3-4, 4.11 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 4.19 FIP)
Times & TV channels
Friday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network
Well, Mike Carlucci seems to think the Cubs have an advantage here, since the Red Sox are worse against teams below .500.
The Cubs have won three series vs. A.L. East teams already this year, so let’s make it four by winning two of three.
The Cubs host the Washington Nationals in a three-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Monday evening.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Red Sox?
This poll is closed