Chicago Cubs: Primetime pitching matchup takes center stage tonight

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

As the Chicago Cubs look to push their season-best winning streak to seven games, they’ll look to Cole Hamels to lead them against the Mets’ Jacob deGrom.

Since joining the Chicago Cubs, few pitchers have been as good as left-hander Cole Hamels. The veteran southpaw carries a 0.79 ERA into Tuesday night’s showdown against the New York Mets and their ace right-hander Jacob deGrom.

The 2018 campaign has been strange for deGrom, who may very well win the National League Cy Young without eclipsing 10 wins. Felix Hernandez currently boasts the lowest win total for a starter who received the league’s top pitching honors, at 13. deGrom would essentially have to win every single remaining start to even hit that mark.

Thankfully for Chicago, the Mets right-hander has pitched very poorly at Wrigley Field in his career, with a 7.20 earned run average in a pair of outings. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels seems right at home in the Friendly Confines.

His last start, a complete game effort at home against Cincinnati, marked the Cubs’ first such effort this year. That’s hardly a surprise given the team’s inconsistencies in the rotation – but bodes well for Hamels heading into September.

Pair Hamels’ dominance with an offense that outscored opponents by a 44-to-15 margin during this six-game winning streak gives us a lot of cause for optimism on Tuesday. Sure, lighting up Reds pitching is different from going up against a guy like deGrom, but the bats are trending up at long last.

In Monday’s opener against New York, Chicago went 7-for-16 with runners in scoring position and hung 14 hits on Mets pitching. Starter Noah Syndergaard allowed nine of those knocks over six innings before giving way to the bullpen.

Keys to the game against deGrom

So what do the Cubs need to do to get to Jacob deGrom?

Utilize the left-handed bats in the lineup. Expect guys like Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ to play a big role – along with recent offensive catalyst Daniel Murphy. Since joining the Cubs, the former Washington second baseman has been scorching hot.

In six games with Chicago, Murphy carries a staggering .407/.448/.704 slash line with a pair of doubles and two home runs. With a chance to leave a mark on his former team (the one with whom he destroyed the Cubs in the 2015 NLCS) – I anticipate seeing a hungry Murph the rest of this series.

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You can’t possibly expect Cole Hamels to limit a team to one run over seven innings every time out. Tuesday is a good test for the Chicago Cubs – can they hang some early runs on an elite starting pitcher? We’ll see. One thing is for sure: this pitching matchup may be one of the best of the entire season.