Series Preview: Cubs vs. Red Sox
The Cubs are venturing out of the NL Central to play a little interleague baseball with the Boston Red Sox in Boston, where they haven’t been since 2014.
Record over the last 10:
The Cubs come in playing solid baseball having gone 6-4 in their last 10 games and sitting atop the NL Central by 1 game over the Brewers.
Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60) 6:10 PM CST
Arrieta was a winner the last time out vs. the Reds during which he gave up 4 runs in 6 innings. In his career, he is 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA against the Red Sox, but most of that came when he was a member of the Orioles’ organization. Of the current Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia is the only one to face Arrieta more than 3 times (he has faced him 9 times) and he is the only one with a hit against him.
Pomeranz has been solid against the Cubs, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA. Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward are both hitting .500 against him (in 2 ABs for Bryant and 4 for Heyward) and Anthony Rizzo is 0 for 8 in his career against him. Pomeranz has had only 1 quality start (his first one against the O’s), so hopefully the Cubs can get to him early and often.
John Lackey (1-3, 4.88) vs. Steven Wright (1-2, 8.66) 3:05 PM CST
John Lakey will be returning to a place where he pitched for a 5 year stretch and won a World Series in 2013. He hasn’t been sharp whatsoever this season, struggling early and then battling through to get 6 innings. He has only had 1 quality start (against the Dodgers) and it would be nice to see him put out a good effort this weekend against his former team.
Steven Wright is one of the few knuckleballers left and came into 2017 after an all-star season in 2016, but so far the results have been mixed. He has given up 7 HRs in just 17.2 innings and has just one quality start. Teams are hitting a robust .413 against him thus far, but one thing he has going for him is that none of the Cubs have faced him before.
Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 4.50) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 3.13 ERA) 7:05 PM CST -ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
Hendricks is coming off his best start of 2017 with a dominant performance over the Pirates. He went 6 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks with 3 Ks. It was his first quality start of the year and his velocity seemed to take a step forward in his last start. The Cubs flipped Hendricks and Brett Anderson, so Hendricks could go on regular rest on Sunday.
Rodriguez came to the Red Sox in the trade that sent Andrew Miller to the Orioles in 2014. He is just 24 years old and is still finding his way, but he was a very well regarded prospect in the Orioles’ system. He is coming off a rather odd start that saw him hold the O’s to one hit over 6 innings with 7 Ks, but also saw him walk 5 batters. He has struck out 22 hitters in 17.1 innings, but also walked 17. The Cubs will need to patient against him and wait for their pitch.
Keys to the Series
On paper, I like the Cubs matchups in 2 out of 3 of these games. They never seem to do well against pitchers they haven’t seen before (Wright and Rodriguez), but if one of those guys scares me more than the other it is Rodriguez because of his swing and miss stuff. It will be good to see the Cubs against teams other than the NL Central and see how they measure up against one of the better AL teams. I think the Cubs will need to be patient (as usual) and hopefully the starting pitching can give them 3 quality starts this weekend.
Pick to Click
I think we will see Anthony Rizzo stay hot this series, but Kris Bryant has hit safely in 8 straight and has had multi-hit efforts in 2 of his last 3 games, so I am picking him to be the big star of the weekend series. It will also be interesting to see how Kyle Schwarber does just DHing instead of also playing the field.