The Cubs (43-49) began the second half by losing two of three to the surging Red Sox, definitely not the start to a critical 10-game homestand they were hoping to have. Now they face an opponent they have to take advantage of, the lowly Washington Nationals (37-56). The Nats are just as bad as they were expected to be before the season and are currently competing with the Rockies for the worst record in the National League.
They are at least towards the middle of the pack with a .716 team OPS, good for 19th in MLB, but their 81 home runs rank 29th. Former Cardinals outfielder Lane Thomas is having a huge season seemingly out of nowhere with 14 home runs and a team-leading .838 OPS. Former (and future?) Cub Jeimer Candelario is also having a nice year, though he is currently dealing with a bruised thumb.
Nationals pitchers, on the other hand, have been an absolute disaster in 2023 with a 4.85 team ERA that includes a 5.15 mark from the bullpen. Josiah Gray has been the best starter while Hunter Harvey and Kyle Finnegan have been the most effective relief options.
The Cubs have basically held their own on the road with a 21-25 record. The problem has been at home with a 22-24 performance that has has seen them fail to balance out what they’re doing on the road. If they want any chance the remainder of the season, they have to start winning at the allegedly Friendly Confines.
The Cubs have to take advantage of this weak opponent, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. After all, they lost three of four to this team in Washington earlier this season. Even with several more games against sub-.500 opponents ahead of the deadline, winning at least two games in this series is imperative.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, July 17 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Tuesday, July 18 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Wednesday, July 19 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Smyly has allowed 14 runs in his last three starts (11.1 IP), not a trend you want to see continue.
- Dansby Swanson took batting practice and some ground balls on Sunday and may return for this series.
- Ian Happ is ice cold right now with just three hits in his last 22 at-bats over the previous two series.