Cubs vs. Reds: Series Thread (Games 50-52)
The Cubs completed a sweep in Pittsburgh to raise their record to 27-22 and force a tie for first with the Cardinals. There return home now to take on the 4th-place Cincinnati Reds (22-26) and to build on an eight-and-two stretch. See below for the weekend's matchups.
Game 50, Friday, May 28, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-4, 4.30 ERA)
CIN: RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Alzolay has been a surprising source of consistency in the Cubs' rotation. He had his best start of the season last time against the Cards when he went 7 innings allowing two earned runs and not issuing a single free pass. This will be his first 2021 start against the Reds.
The 25-year-old Vladimir Gutierrez will be making his major league debut. He brings 4-pitch mix where every pitch rates as average to plus.
Game 51, Saturday, May 29, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (2-2, 4.96 ERA)
CIN: RHP Luis Castillo (1-7, 7.61 ERA)
Davies has gone three straight starts without earning a decision. Last time, he went five scoreless innings in which he allowed four hits and three walks. His strikeout to walk ratio is still dangerous close to 1:1 but his overall results have been much better in May than in the previous month. In his only start against Cincinnati this season he allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings.
Castillo has been tagged for 40 earned runs in just under two months of work this season despite putting up decent peripherals. That's lead to a gap of more than 3 between his ERA and xERA (expected ERA). He's not exactly getting hammered, but he is getting squared up more often in the past, having allowed a line drive percentage of over 24% thus far. Most recently he gave up five earned runs in a loss to the Brewers in which he pitched 5 innings. In one outing against the Cubs this year he took a loss despite allowing only three earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
Game 52, Sunday, May 30, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Jake Arrieta (5-4, 4.37 ERA)
CIN: RHP Tyler Mahle (3-2, 3.75 ERA)
Jake Arrieta contributed five innings and seven strikeouts to the sweep in Pittsburgh. He allowed three runs, two earned, and generally kept Pirates hitters off balance. Aside from one bad start in which he was working around a hand injury, he has consistently outperformed expectations.
Mahle took a big step forward in 2020 and has continued to impress in the first two months of 2021. He's had two bad starts on the season; one came two outings ago when he allowed seven earned runs to San Franciso, and the other was on May 2 when allowed six earned runs to the Cubs. Last time out he pitched 5.1 scoreless innings in Washington. Bryant homered twice and Rizzo took Mahle deep once. Bryant also doubled off of him in that game. The Reds eventually won that one, when Castellanos singled in the 10th.