The Cubs are not a good baseball team, though winning four straight series had a lot of folks doing the cocktail napkin calculus to get them to more lasting success in a hurry. That math has fallen apart of late with six straight losses that have the Cubs sitting with the fourth-worst record in baseball. It’s going to be difficult to maintain that spot with the Royals headed to Toronto sans 40% of their roster, but things don’t necessarily get easier for the Cubs over the final weekend of the first half.
The Mets come to town boasting the second-best record in the NL and have Max Scherzer at full strength after missing nearly two months with an oblique issue. This could end up being a showcase of sorts for Willson Contreras and others, as the Mets are very thin and catcher and should be willing to get splashy as they attempt to shore up their title contention.
Adding another big bat would make a very good lineup pretty incredible and could even prevent the Queens denizens from Metsing yet again with the Braves on their heels. They’ve already got four players with at least 2.0 fWAR, two of whom are outdoing the 2.6 from Contreras. Francisco Lindor (3.2) leads the way, followed by Brandon Nimmo (2.9), then they have Jeff McNeil (2.5) and Pete Alonso (2.0).
Though they don’t hit for a ton of power as a team, the Mets’ .254 average is fourth in MLB and their .324 OBP is fifth. Balance that with a 3.73 team ERA that sits seventh in baseball — that’s without Jacob deGrom all season and missing those starts from Scherzer — and you can see how they present a very tough matchup for even a good team.
Look, we’ve seen the Cubs beat good teams this season and it’s entirely possible they’ll be able to do the same here. But with both the All-Star break and the trade deadline looming, this is a battle of two teams headed in opposite directions. Whatever helium the Cubs pumped into our emotional balloon over those couple of weeks at the end of June and start of July has gone pfsssst and all that remains is a wrinkly rubber vessel with a sad length of tattered string trailing it.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Thursday, July 14 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
- Friday, July 15 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
- Saturday, July 16 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
- Sunday, July 17 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
What to Watch For
- Will Sampson keep exceeding expectations or will regression catch up to him?
- Smyly looked uncomfortable in his first start back from an oblique injury, but he can rebuild some trade value with a solid start
- Walker has been very good and his 0.42 HR/9 is fourth-lowest in MLB (min. 80 IP)
- Pederson’s propensity for walks could play in the Cubs’ favor
- The first game looks like the most winnable on paper with Thompson going against Cookie Carrasco; dropping the opener could spell doom