The Cubs are playing October baseball, baby! Even though it’s nothing more than a byproduct of the owners’ lockout, it’s good to see the Cubs playing this deep into the year, and playing well. They’ve won five straight and nine of 10 to tie last year’s win total with five games remaining against the Reds, they could even get to 75 wins. It’s easy to see how they could make a significant jump forward next season.
For now, though, it’s all about grinding out the last few games and setting the table for the winter. Drew Smyly could well be part of that picture because the Cubs hold a $10 million club option on him for next season. The lefty hasn’t pitched since September 14 and may be on a short leash in this one, but he was dominant in his two previous starts and pitched well against the Reds the last time he faced them.
Cincy will counter with lanky southpaw Nick Lodolo, who will be making his 19th career start and second against the Cubs. The rookie has been very good on the whole and appears to be gaining confidence, at least according to his strikeout numbers. He had a three-start stretch at the start of September in which he struck out 31 batters with just one walk in 20.1 innings.
The problem for Lodolo so far seems to be locating his secondaries. More specifically, he has a tendency to hang either his curve or change right in the zone. When those two pitches make up 40% of his repertoire, being off with one or both can really hurt. Lodolo has given up five homers in his last four starts, but he hasn’t allow more than six hits or three runs in any of them.
This could be another one of those games where the Cubs need to take advantage of whatever opportunities they’re given. Lodolo has shown very good control of late and he can definitely miss bats, but this hot streak on the North Side has been fueled by a lot of timely hitting.
As for who will be doing that hitting, well, take your pick from the lineup below. Apologies for the perceived laziness, but time was of the essence so the Twitter image will have to suffice.
First pitch from Wrigley is at 1:20pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 1, 2022