Cubs @ Diamondbacks: Series Thread (Games 91-93)
Just before kicking off the post-All Star portion of the season, the Cubs traded their starting left fielder for an advanced A-ball first base prospect. Pederson had not proven himself integral to what middling success the Cubs had managed so far this season, and the team could conceivably improve without him. However, the Cubs were rumored to be sellers going into the All-Star break and this move lends further support. They'll continue on, for now, with remaining core players like Javy, Rizzo, Bryant, and Contreras--but we'll be watching these games knowing any of those players could be making their last appearances in Cubs blue.
The current Cubs will be taking up bat and glove against D-Backs club with the worst record in the majors. Arizona enters the series second to last in the majors wRC+ and dead last in pitching WAR with a shocking 1.0 in fWAR--a team 5.48 ERA in the DH-less league will do that. Still, things won't necessarily be easygoing for the Cubs. See below for my best guess at pitching matchups. [Edit: my guesses were wrong.]
Game 91, Friday, July 16, 8:40 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (11-4, 3.77 ERA)
ARZ: LHP Madison Bumgarner (4-5, 5.73 ERA)
Despite the Cubs' struggles of late, Hendricks continues to defend an undefeated streak going back to mid May. He earned a win against the Cardinals before the break, allowing two earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched.
Bumgarner has made three starts in a row in which he's allowed at least five earned runs, exiting his last start after only two innings pitched. He's a got a seven-inning no hitter under his belt, but things have not gone smoothly for the veteran lefty.
Gamey 92, Saturday, July 17, 3:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Adbert Alzolay (4-9, 4.66 ERA)
ARZ: TBD - RHP Zac Gallen (1-4, 4.17 ERA)
Alzolay's numbers were inflated slightly in June and early July, but he hasn't had many severe ups or downs this season. The area of greatest consistency for him has been homers--giving up a couple of them every game or two, that is. Like many other pitchers, his success hinges on keeping his misses out of the zone.
The D-Backs have not announced a starter for this game. Taylor Widener started for the D-Backs on July 9th but was optioned the next day. [Zac Gallen last started on July 2. He went two innings and allowed three earned runs. It was the weakest of his nine starts this season. This will be his first career start against the Cubs.]
Game 93, Sunday, July 18, 3:10 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (5-6, 4.37 ERA)
ARZ: TBD - [RHP Caleb Smith (2-6, 4.54 ERA)]
Davies took a loss against the Cardinals, exiting after 4.1 and allowing three earned runs. It sure would be nice if he found the feel for his changeup.
[Smith has 27 appearances, nine of them starts, in 2021. He last started on July 10 when he surrendered nine(!) runs in a single inning pitched. He had another rough start in the first week of July when he allowed five earned runs. In 6 June starts he held down a 2.87 ERA, but he had very similar peripherals.]