The Cubs (52-44) take on the Padres (46-50) in a three-game set of matinees at Wrigley. The Padres are a thoroughly mediocre team, but they've played streaky ball since early June and have jumped up and surprised both the Dodgers and the Brewers during that time with three wins against each. The streaks have run both ways, as they've also gone through four losing streaks of at least three games during that period. This will be the first time the Cubs face them in 2019. Since last year, they've added Manny Machado. He's been good for them so far, albeit with a slightly lower than usual batting average for him. But rookie Fernando Tatis Jr. has been the offensive star, offering power, speed, and (thanks to a .430 BABIP) a high average. Hunter Renfroe also seems to be enjoying 2019--he just recently passed his previous single season high in homeruns and now sits at 27. Kirby Yates is enjoying a banner year out of the bullpen, leading the pitching staff in fWAR, striking out 14.36 per 9 innings and generally going untouched by the 2019 homerun boom. See below for game-by-game matchups.
CHC (51-44): RHP Yu Darvish (2-4, 4.72 ERA)
CIN (43-49): RHP Sonny Gray (5-5, 3.42 ERA)
First pitch 1:20pmCDT
Yu Darvish and the Cubs go for the series win in an afternoon finale. Darvish went six scoreless against the Pirates on Friday and remains winless at Wrigley. Derek Dietrich is 4-9 off of him and has tagged him for two homeruns. Jose Iglesias and Nick Senzel are 3-6 and 3-7 respectively.
CHC (50-44): RHP Alec Mills (0-0, -.-- ERA)
CIN (43-48): RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-4, 4.26 ERA)
First pitch 7:05pmCDT
Bad news first: The Cubs dropped the first game of the series in frustrating fashion (no hitting with RISP, fielding errors, bullpen inadequacy) and Willson is going to the IL with a foot injury. In the meantime, the Cubs are sending Mike Montgomery to KC in exchange for Martin Maldonado. Caratini seems likely to get plenty of at bats and the Cubs will have the option to use him more in the pinch if they keep Maldonado around after Contreras's IL stint ends.
CHC (50-43): RHP Kyle Hendricks (7-7, 3.49 ERA)
CIN (42-48): RHP Luis Castillo (8-3, 2.29 ERA)
First pitch 7:05pmCDT
Coming off a sweep of the Pirates, the Cubs work to lengthen a 2.5 game lead in the division and a 6.5 gap between themselves and the last place Reds. Kyle Hendricks will make his first post-break start. His last two starts, both following his IL stint for shoulder impingement, have been abbreviated (the first by rain). Last time he was doing fine until former Cubs Jon Jay and Eloy Jimenez teamed up for the old bloop and a blast. Hendricks is 1-0 in two starts against the Reds this year, allowing four earned runs in 14 innings. Votto is 10-24 off of him with three homeruns. Puig is 4-12 with one homer.
Brewer's closer Josh Hader gave up 2 homers the other night in an extra inning loss to the Giants, which brings his 2019 total up to 9.
That's also how many he gave up all last year.
Just a crack in the Brewer armor.
A disturbance in the force.
One of those things that can live in Hader's head no matter how much he may try to forget.
Welcome back from your well-deserved break. Starting Friday, the Cubs get back at the division battle with a three-game set against the Pirates. They'll try to leave behind a bit of a mid-season slump (one in which the entire division had been mired) and put some distance between themselves and their division rivals. See game-by-game matchups below.