Chicago Cubs: Three keys to success against the Cincinnati Reds

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
3 of 3
Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

 Chicago Cubs: Bullpen issues looming large for club

It’s no secret the Cubs bullpen has struggled recently. Their woes include Carl Edwards Jr., a brutally overworked Steve Cishek and the likes of guys like Brandon Kintzler, who hasn’t ever really looked comfortable since joining the club.

More from Cubbies Crib

Edwards, though, ranks as the prime example of what “not quite there” looks like on the mound. He is in good company joined by teammates Brandon Kintzler, Brandon Morrow, Dillon Maples, and James Norwood.

Perhaps the shortcomings of several relievers looms particularly large given how effective the group, as a whole, has been this season. The relief corps leads all of baseball with a 3.35 ERA and .225 batting average against. But, in the last week-plus, guys like Cishek have struggled. Factor in injuries to Brandon Morrow and, now, Pedro Strop, and there’s plenty of cause for concern.

Edwards missed the mark again Monday against the Brewers at Wrigley, giving up the go-ahead run in the sixth inning on a wild pitch (after which he seemingly forget to cover home).  Between a lack of offensive production and bullpen struggles, you can’t help but be at least a little concerned with six days to go till an off-day.

Next. Keep an eye out for missing Chicago offense. dark

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

Chicago Cubs: Generating hits early key for the offense

The Cubs offense has got to show up for this series.

The last time these two teams met, Javier Baez accounted for four runs, seven hits, one double, two home runs and five RBI in the series. If the MVP candidate can produce the same numbers this weekend, look for the Cubs to get ahead early.

Fans are looking for those 10+ runs in the first three innings which the Cubs revealed more than a few times this season. With the Reds’ pitching issues, Chicago will try and capitalize early and get a comfortable lead.

dark. Next. Baez hoping big game carries him to MVP honors

If they can get out of the gate with a few run under their belt, the Reds’ weak staff should help them the rest of the way.  It’s not unreasonable to think the Cubs could (and should) sweep the Reds one last time this season. Obviously, that could work wonders in the team’s quest for October. With a tight division race mounting, the Cubs are looking for such an outcome  more than ever before.