Despite the Chicago Cubs struggling to win only two games in the past week, they still hold the best record in baseball by two losses. Tonight, they look to bounce back with the top of the rotation starting things off.
It was a tough series in Miami against Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins but it’s time to move on and make sure that nine-game lead in the National League Central stays intact.
This Chicago Cubs team has been hit with the injury bug for the third time as they are still without center fielder Dexter Fowler and outfielder Jorge Soler. Somewhat of a nightmare for Joe Maddon‘s first place club.
On top of that, Tommy La Stella is currently on a rehab assignment with a minor-league affiliate of the Cubs. But while a handful of guys are out, Willson Contreras and Albert Almora have filled in nicely — for now.
Contreras came up after Almora but has swatted three home runs, nine RBI, five runs, with eight total hits while slashing .348/.464/.783 in 23 at-bats.
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Chicago (48-26) will be sending out ace right-hander Jake Arrieta (11-2, 1.74 ERA) to the mound following a fantastic performance against the St. Louis Cardinals just five days ago.
Despite picking up the loss, Arrieta held the red-hot Cardinals to one earned run on four hits while issuing four walks and recording six strikeouts in five innings of work. Jake hit a slight bump in the road, proving to the world that he is, in fact, human after all.
And remember, he pitched his second career no-hitter when the Cubs first visited Great American Ball Park earlier this year during a 16-0 blowout.
As for the host, the Cincinnati Reds (29-47) will send out former Chicago Cubs prospect, Dan Straily (4-4, 3.83 ERA) who has struggled against the North Siders in 2016. In two starts against the Cubs, Straily has surrendered a combined five earned runs on six hits with five walks, and eight strikeouts in seven innings.
That was when the Cubs were taking the league by storm, putting up massive numbers against almost every pitcher that was put in their way. Now, it’s a completely different story. Chicago has struggled against teams who are below .500 and have made them look like postseason contenders in the process.
Hopefully, they will be able to turn that around. This series should be considered a must-win for a team looking to prove that they are the real deal.
First pitch for tonight’s series opener is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. central time and will air live on WGN and 670 The Score.