The Cubs (53-52) just completed a very successful 5-1 road trip to get themselves back over the .500 mark and into position for a playoff push. It’s even possible they may add at Tuesday’s trade deadline and at the very least will not sell off. Now they get a major opportunity with four games at Wrigley Field against the first-place Reds (58-49).
After a six-game losing streak around the All-Star break, Cincinnati has gone 8-3 to get back into the top spot in the National League Central. Their pitching has been much better during this hot streak, allowing just 2.8 runs per game. Overall, however, it has been a struggle with a team ERA of 4.62 that is the 25th-best in baseball.
Ben Lively and rookie Andrew Abbott have been particularly strong of late and closer Alexis Diaz has been excellent while the rest of the bullpen has struggled. The Reds’ strong suit remains offense with their 10th-ranked .745 team OPS, one spot ahead of the Cubs (.741).
Rookie sensation Elly De La Cruz went through an adjustment period after his blistering start, but he just had a four-hit game on Sunday against the Dodgers. Fellow rookie Matt McLain is also having a huge season with 11 home runs and a .905 OPS.
The Cubs have struggled in their two series against Cincinnati this season, putting up a 1-4 record that includes a sweep at Wrigley Field in May. A lot has changed in two months and both of these teams are much better than they were then. This is a big test for Chicago after playing several games agianst squads with losing records.
The North Siders have battled back into the race and are in a position to make a move, something most did not expect from them even a month ago. Now it is time to see if they can seize the opportunity and really make the rest of this season exciting. Embrace the drama, it’s nice to have it back at the Friendly Confines.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, July 31 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Tuesday, August 1 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Wednesday, August 2 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Thursday, August 3 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Yan Gomes has nine hits in the last six games, including a double and a homer.
- Mike Tauchman had seven hits in just two starts in St. Louis.
- Stroman has allowed 21 runs in his last five starts.