Cubs vs Phillies – Series Preview (June 5-7): TV and Game Info, Pitching Matchups, Insights
When they embarked on their recent seven-game road trip, the Cubs sat in third place in the NL Central, 4 1/2 games back of Milwaukee. One week later and Chicago returns home to Wrigley Field riding high after concluding a successful 6-1 road trip with a four-game sweep of the Mets. Chicago (33-23) moved up to second place while cutting its deficit to 2 games over the course of the East Coast swing.
Pitching was a big bright spot for the Cubs on the road trip, as their pitching staff combined for a 1.88 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 0.97 WHIP and a batting average against of .183. The bullpen in particular was impressive, with the Cubs receiving strong performances from both expected sources (like Brandon Morrow) and those all the way down the bullpen depth chart (Luke Farrell).
Although Chicago benefited from excellent pitching over the road trip, the offense also put up some strong numbers against the Pirates and Mets, combining for a .309/.381/.451 slash line with a wRC+ of 126. The batted ball rates weren’t great, however, as they had a 23.8 percent soft contact rate and a relatively low 29.1 hard hit rate, both of which led to some missed opportunities and scoring droughts.
If the Cubs are coming into this series feeling good about themselves, Philadelphia enters with a bit of a dark cloud hanging over its head. The Phillies (31-26, 3rd in NL East) haven’t won consecutive games since winning three in a row May 13-17. To make matters worse, they were swept by the Giants over the weekend in a three-game set that culminated in former Cub Jake Arrieta calling out his team following a 6-1 loss in the series finale.
One thing Arrieta touched upon was the Philadelphia offense and, suffice to say, that’s because it hasn’t been great. The Phillies rank 11th in the NL in runs scored (239), wRC+ (91) and wOBA (.305) and have combined for 5.3 fWAR (12th in NL). As bad as those numbers are, they have been even worse of late. Since April 28, the Philadelphia offense has slashed .229/.303/.387 with an NL-worst 26.1 percent strikeout rate.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, June 5 at 7:05 p.m. CT on WGN
- Wednesday, June 6 at 7:05 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago Plus
- Thursday, June 7 at 1:20 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago
What to Watch For
- Arrieta may be the big name in the Philadelphia rotation, but don’t overlook Aaron Nola. A former first-round pick, Nola has quietly established himself as one of the game’s best young arms. After a solid start to the season, Nola turned it on in May, compiling a 4-1 record with a 1.80 ERA, 2.06 FIP and a K/BB ratio of 5.75 over 40 innings.
- After a slow start to the season, Anthony Rizzo has been on a tear. Since May 1, the Chicago first baseman has slashed .309/.409/.564 with seven home runs, 29 RBI and a wRC+ of 159 through 28 games. He has been even hotter at home during that stretch, with Rizzo hitting .349/.500/.698 with four home runs and a wRC+ of 222 in 56 plate appearances at Wrigley.
- Albert Almora Jr. has made some big strides at the plate this season, particularly when it comes to hitting right-handed pitchers. Through 122 plate appearances against righties, Almora has hit .301/.347/.389 with a wRC+ of 103. That said, don’t be shocked to see Almora to take a seat on the bench for at least one game, as the Phillies will trot out three right-handers in the series, all of whom have been tougher on right-handed hitters in 2018.