Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds
Dates: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 – Thursday, August 24, 2017
Location: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, OH
The Cubs have won three straight and six of eight, but they’re still only up by a few games on the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. Chicago has plenty of motivation to win as they’re a long way from wrapping up a postseason berth. A second-half record of 23-12 is certainly encouraging and centers around the improved starting pitching. Willson Contreras has also been a stud in the second half, but he’s now on the shelf. His injury—along with that to Addison Russell—could factor into this series. The Cubs still have plenty of talent, but most is still underperforming expectations.
In Cincinnati, there’s enough offense to win, but the pitching—namely the starting pitching—remains dreadfully inadequate. With a .378 winning percentage in the second-half, the Reds are struggling and have very little to play for at this point in the year. Several players are playing for their jobs, but as a collective unit, wins and losses mean little right now. On the positive side for Cincy, they are a respectable 29-31 at home. Their offense plays up at Great American Ballpark where they can sometimes just outslug the competition. Having Joey Votto—one of the games’ best hitters—certainly helps that, though career years from Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez doesn’t hurt. Regression from Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler, however, has put a dent the offensive potency of the Reds’ order, even at home.
Game 1 Probable Pitchers – Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET ( WGN )
John Lackey ( Cubs ) vs. Homer Bailey ( Reds )
Every arm in the Cubs’ rotation has regressed form last year, but none as much as John Lackey. The 38-year old is showing his age. He’s 10-9 thanks to good run support, but has a 4.67 ERA and 1.321 WHIP. With 29 home runs allowed in 131 innings along with an elevated walk rate and artificially low BABIP against him, Lackey has been lucky to have an ERA as low as 4.67. His FIP is 5.50. Lackey is throwing better lately. He’s pitching to a 3.06 ERA in six second half starts, but has allowed 11 runs in 17.1 innings against Cincinnati this year.
Homer Bailey is still trying to find his command since his long-awaited return from the DL. He’s walked 5.1 per nine innings over his first 11 games and has an 8.44 ERA. He last faced the Cubs and flashed a bit of everything in that game, striking out 10 and walking five in 5.2 innings. He settled down after a first inning grand slam, but command—particularly early in the game—is a huge issue. The Reds really have no one else to turn to so the Cubs hitters should again feast on the struggling veteran.
Game 2 Probable Pitchers – Wednesday, August 22, 7:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Mike Montgomery ( Cubs ) vs. Asher Wojciechowski ( Reds )
The lefty Mike Montgomery is in for another Cubs’ southpaw, Jon Lester. Lester hasn’t been his normal self this year, but he’s a better start than Montgomery. The southpaw is 2-3 with a 5.13 ERA in eight starts. Some of that inconsistency in the rotation is due to his shuffling back-and-forth from the bullpen. As a reliever, he’s been very good, but he’s not stretched out and cannot be expected to go deep in this game.
Asher Wojciechowski is a projected starter for this game. Like Montgomery, Wojciechowski has split time between the rotation and the bullpen and, like Montgomery, has been woefully ineffective in the rotation. He’s surprisingly 2-2 in seven starts, but has a 7.39 ERA as a starter. He’s pitched to a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings of relief. Wojciechowski has only more than 3.2 innings in an outing three times since June 10 so he, too, is not likely to last deep into the game.
Game 3 Probable Pitchers – Thrusday, August 24, 2017, 7:10 p.m. ET ( Local TV )
Jake Arrieta ( Cubs ) vs. Sal Romano ( Reds )
Jake Arrieta is starting to look like Jake Arrieta. Like the rest of the Cubs’ rotation, he struggled through the first half, but he’s been part of the team’s turnaround since the All-Star game. In his last seven starts, he’s allowed two or fewer runs and is 5-1 with a 2.00 ERA. Arrieta was drafted by the Reds out of high school, but didn’t sign. He’s 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA against them in his career and has allowed less than a base runner per innings. His ERA is obviously higher at the hitter friendly park in Cincinnati, but he’s still 5-1 against the Reds on the road.
Sal Romano is yet another young starter that the Reds hope to turn into something. The early results have been spotty. He’s allowed a ton of base runners and shown questionable command, but is coming off his best start ever. He held the Braves to one runs in seven innings, giving up just five hits and walking two. That, however, did come on the heels of three straight losses. The Reds are 3-6 in his nine starts. He’s yet to face the Cubs, but Cubs righties should have a field day against him. He’s been okay against lefties, but righties are hitting .312 against him with a .953 OPS.