Don’t look now, but after an ugly 10-game losing streak the Chicago Cubs (30-46) have won three of their last four series. Rather than shrinking the gap between them and the last-place Reds, the Cubs are actually closing in on the third-place Pittsburgh Pirates. And no, I’m not trying to convince you that is some sort of turnaround for this team, rather I’d like to try to look at things in a more positive manner than, well, the reality of the situation.
The Cubs take on the Boston Red Sox (43-33) beginning today for a three-game series at Historic Wrigley Field. After starting the season with a 23-27 record at the end of May, the Red Sox have been red-hot finishing June with a 20-6 record. Of course, they’re chasing the New York Yankees who are currently 56-21 so the reality for the Rod Sox is much more likely to be a wild card spot than division winners.
On paper this looks like a very tough series for the Cubs. Digging a little deeper, however, gives a few morsels of encouragement. On offense in June, the Red Sox hit 24 HRs, scored 129 runs, and struck out a respectable 19.2% of the time. The Cubs hit 27 HRs, scored 120 runs, and struck out at a rate of just 20%. But things go sideways a bit on pitching.
The Red Sox ERA in June was 3.02 while they gave up .77 HR/9. The Cubs countered with a 5.96 ERA and 1.68 HR/9. Sure, the Cubs have been better since that nefarious 10-game losing streak, registering a 4.37 ERA, but that still gives us plenty of reason to be more than a little concerned about this series. The biggest takeaway might just be that of the past three series the Cubs have won, two have been against the Braves (44-33) and the Cardinals (43-35). So, I’m saying there’s a chance.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, July 1 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and MLB Network (out-of-market)
- Saturday, July 2 at 6:15pm CT on FOX
- Sunday, July 3 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
What to Watch For
- Sampson has been very good so far in limited action — he’s played in just three games, starting two of them. If Sampson can have another strong performance the Cubs should have a good chance on Friday going up against the veteran Hill
- Nico Hoerner has been next-level good this season, hitting for a .310 AVG and striking out at a rate of just 10.2%, which is best in MLB among shortstops with at least 200 PAs. Look for him to continue to break out.
- Christopher Morel made his MLB debut with a bang, literally, when he smashed his first hit over the Ivy in left field. From June 17 through June 29 he batted just .208 with a 45.1% K rate. On Thursday, Morel went off, ending the game 5-for-5 with a homer, a double, three runs, and two RBI. Can Morel turn it on in this series and ensure that he stays with the Big Club when Seiya Suzuki returns?