The Cubs won two out of three from the Reds with some late-inning heroics in the first two games of the series, but the one issue everybody has been talking about is the lackluster offensive production. That said, the Cubs still have the best record in the National League (87-62) and lead the Brewers in the Central by 2.5 games. They will head for a three-game road trip out west to face the Arizona Diamondbacks, then will finally be able to take a day off to recuperate.
The Diamondbacks are in third place in the NL West, trailing the Rockies by 4.5 games with a 78-72 record. In their last 10 games, they have gone 3-7 and just dropped two of three to the Astros. They are 4-11 in September and have yet to win consecutive games this month.
On the year, the D-backs’ offense has been mediocre at best, slashing .237/.313/.399. Much of the load has been carried by two players: Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta. Goldschmidt is slashing .299/.400/.555 on the season, and .352/.435/.611 in September. Peralta has slashed .298/.356/.523 for the season, and .280/.339/.400 in September. Nick Ahmed has been hot this month, slashing .277/.340/.447 and accruing 0.3 fWAR.
Anchoring Arizona’s rotation is Patrick Corbin, who would likely be leading the Cy Young discussion if not for Jacob deGrom’s phenomenal year. His 2.40 FIP is fourth best in all of baseball and he is striking out 31.1 percent of batters, while only walking 5.7 percent. Corbin is the only starter the Cubs should have issues with, though Robbie Ray has shown some promise at times. Andrew Chafin, who has not allowed a homer and has a nice 2.69 FIP in 47.1 innings of work, has been their best reliever.
In order to come away with a series win, the Cubs must limit the damage done by Goldschmidt, Peralta, and Ahmed. But more important is how the Cubs do at the plate. Their offensive woes continued against a Reds staff that has been poor all year and the Diamondbacks aren’t exactly a pushover. The pitching staff has done a great job at limiting opposing offenses recently, but they can only do so much.
I see the Cubs taking the loss on Monday in a close one. Corbin and Kyle Hendricks will both pitch gems and get into the 7th. Unfortunately, Corbin and his knot of relievers will keep the Cubs offense at bay, and winning 3-1. Tuesday, however, will be a different story, a high-scoring affair that the Cubs win 7-4. Wednesday will be the rubber game and Cole Hamels will go six innings while allowing two runs.
The Cubs will have a 5-3 lead going into the 8th that the bullpen nearly squanders away. They win Wednesday’s game 5-4 and go into the off day a happy bunch.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, September 17 at 8:40pm CT on WGN
- Tuesday, September 18 at 8:40pm CT on WGN
- Wednesday, September 19 at 8:40pm CT on CSN Chcago
What to Watch for
- It has been a running theme for quite some time now, but the offense needs to wake up. If the Cubs are able to work deep counts and make solid contact, this series will be a good one them. If not, it will be a nerve-wracking affair. Making hard contact will allow them to put up runs in bunches, so look for them to avoid going Chopper City.
- Jason Heyward is back after being sidelined with a hamstring issue. This will allow Joe Maddon to put Kris Bryant back at the hot corner where he belongs, which will have a trickle-down effect on who mans the other positions. David Bote should get some time at second while Javy Baez will take shortstop for at least two of the games in Arizona.