Chicago Cubs: Jose Quintana leads club into four-game set against Cincinnati
By Jake Misener
On Monday, left-hander Jose Quintana takes the ball in the series opener of a four-game set between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.
Coming off a series win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs open a lengthy homestand against the Cincinnati Reds Monday night. They do so in hopes of opening up some breathing room in the National League Central, which remains unthinkably tight.
Chicago (61-55) leads the division. But a grand total of four games separate the top four clubs in the Central. St. Louis trails the Cubs by just one game, Milwaukee two and Pittsburgh four. Really the only non-factor in the division is the team coming to Wrigley this week: the Reds.
Jose Quintana (6-10, 4.42) hopes recent trends continue between the two clubs. Chicago swept Cincinnati in each of their previous two meetings, according to MLB.com. Furthermore, the Cubs have taken eight of the last 10 series between the two clubs.
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The matchup features one of the leading candidates for National League MVP – and he doesn’t play for the Cubs. Reds first baseman Joey Votto is putting up another spectacular season. Entering Monday, he owns a .314/.446/.600 slash-line to go along with his 31 homers and 83 runs batted in.
If the season were to end today, his 1.046 OPS would be the best mark of his big-league career. He leads the league in on-base percentage and may very well be one of the most underrated players in the game today.
Meanwhile, the Cubs hope Kris Bryant continues his hot hitting. The Chicago third baseman is batting .294 on the year after a tremendous series against Arizona, capped with a late-inning home run on Sunday.
A finger injury sapped his power for weeks. But, if Sunday was any indication, KBoom may be back this week at the Friendly Confines.
Chicago and Cincinnati continue the four-game set all week at Wrigley. Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.70) takes the ball for the Cubs and Luis Castillo starts Tuesday for the Reds.
First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.