After going 5-6 on their season-high 11-game road trip, the Cubs return to Wrigley to close out the first half. Chicago celebrates the Fourth of July by starting a brief two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays.
This six-game homestand is a big chance for the Northsiders’ to build a beachhead above the .500 mark. As with everything in the 2017 season, it won’t be easy for the Cubs to accomplish. If they can, however, it would be a good jumping-off point for a second-half surge.
The Rays have been a surprising success story in 2017. Joe Maddon’s former club sits at 43-41, tied for the second wild card in the American League. Tampa is riding a power surge to contention, as their 128 home runs rank only behind Houston in all of baseball.
Logan Morrison leads the team with 24 round-trippers, while DH/OF Corey Dickerson has earned an All-Star bid thanks to a .321/.363/.562 slash line. The team ERA of 4.18 sits just about in the middle of the MLB rankings.
Rumors are flying that Kyle Schwarber may be close to coming back to the Cubs, and Jason Heyward could return from a rehab assignment as well. It feels like I’ve said this ad nauseam this season, but now is the time for this team to wake up and start playing well.
Game Time And Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, July 4 @ 1:20 CT on WGN
- Wednesday, July 5 @ 1:20 CT on CSN-Chicago
What To Watch For
- Ian Happ is currently on a five-game hitting streak. The switch-hitting outfielder is fresh off a two-homer game on Sunday and has suddenly become a key piece of the Chicago lineup.
- Chris Archer has been a hot name in trade rumors involving the Cubs, but he may well remain in a Rays uniform given their strong play. His 3.07 FIP seems to indicate his pitching even better than his ERA suggests.
- Willson Contreras isn’t complaining about increased playing time after the departure of Miguel Montero. Contreras is hitting .318 with 3 home runs in the past week. Oh, and he’s still gunning down runners left and right.