A brief five-game home stand got off to a rocky start as the Cubs were swept by the Indians in a two-game set earlier in the week. The sweep moved Chicago (25-21) back to fourth place in the NL Central, 3.5 games behind Milwaukee.
Although they reached base 20 times against the Cleveland pitching staff, the Cubs failed to take advantage of their opportunities, managing just one run while going 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position over the two games. They will now look to regroup as they take on the Giants at Wrigley Field.
San Francisco (24-26) has hovered within a few games of .500 for most of the season. Up until now, that placed the Giants on the outskirts in the NL West, but thanks to Arizona dropping 13 of its last 14 games, San Francisco finds itself just 2 games out of first in a division that is suddenly up for grabs.
Despite a couple of high-profile trades in the offseason, the Giants offense has been decidedly average thus far. Neither Andrew McCutchen (.237/.342/.376) nor Evan Longoria (.246/.276/.448) have had the impact San Francisco hoped for, resulting in an offense that is eighth in the NL in runs scored (204) and offensive fWAR (6.0), even while having an MLB-best BABIP of .326.
While the overall offensive performance may be so-so, Brandon Belt has quietly put together an outstanding first couple of months for the Giants. The first baseman is slashing .317/.416/.593 with a team-leading 11 home runs and a wRC+ of 178, which is third best in all of baseball. His BABIP (.389) is the fifth highest in MLB this season and well above his pre-2018 career BABIP (.333), so a bit of a regression is probably on the way at some point.
On the pitching side, the San Francisco rotation has been hit hard by injuries. Madison Bumgarner has been out all season after breaking his pitching pinkie toward the end of spring training, while Johnny Cueto, in the midst of a bounce-back season (3-0, 0.84 ERA/2.73 FIP), has been out since early May with a strained right elbow. Without their top two starters, the Giants’ starting five has struggled for the most part, as they currently sit dead last in the NL in K/9 (6.85) and are third-worst in both ERA (4.67) and fWAR (1.4).
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, May 25 at 1:20pm CT on ABC 7 and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Saturday, May 26 at 6:15pm CT on FOX
- Sunday, May 27 at 7:08pm CT on ESPN
What to Watch For
- Look for the Cubs to feature a righty-heavy lineup against Derek Holland in game one. Holland has traditionally been tougher to hit from the left side (.242/.307/.344) than the right (.267/.334/.473) and that has continued in 2018. Lefties are hitting just .103/.194/.179 against him this season while right-handed hitters are at .245/.321/.537.
- Chicago pitching has struggled with command for much of the season, as they hold the second-worst BB/9 (4.35) in all of baseball. However, the Giants offense has been one of the least patient teams in baseball, sporting the second-worst walk percentage (7.6) in MLB. Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
- Can Ben Zobrist get his bat going at home against a shaky Giants pitching staff? Although he has rebounded nicely following a down 2017 campaign, Zobrist has not been nearly as successful at Wrigley Field as he has been on the road this season. Away from Chicago, Zobrist has put up an outstanding .327/.431/.455 line with a wRC+ of 151. At the Friendly Confines, however, Zobrist sees those same numbers plummet to .250/.333/.339 with a wRC+ of 88.