The Chicago Cubs are playing great baseball as of late. They currently sit atop the NL Central with a record of 32-23 and have a 1.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The North Siders are 9-1 in their last 10 games and are coming off a three-game sweep against the San Diego Padres.
Now, the Cubs will travel to San Francisco to take on the Giants in a four-game series. This might be one of the toughest opponents that Chicago has played all season long. The Giants currently have the best record in the NL at 34-21 and can be considered a very surprising team so far. The Cubs are just two games back from San Francisco for the best record in the NL.
Beating good teams is no surprise to the North Siders. In the past month, they have swept the Los Angeles Dodgers, swept the San Diego Padres, and took two out of three against the Cardinals.
Furthermore, Chicago’s main success during this run has been the bullpen. The Cubs bullpen has been lights out this season especially in the past month led by closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel has pitched in 23 games posting an ERA of just 0.78. Other notable Cubs relief pitchers include Tommy Nance, Dan Winkler, Keegan Thompson, Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera who all have lower than a 2.50 ERA.
The Cubs will hope to use that moment for one of the biggest series of the season. Here are the probables for each game.
Zach Davies will take the mound for the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night. Davies has been mediocre this season after an outstanding season for San Diego in 2020. Last season, in 12 starts the former Padre went 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA. This season, he is 2-2 with a 4.65 ERA.
On the other side of the mound, the Cubs will face the 6-foot-2 right-hander, Anthony DeSclafani. In 11 starts this season, he is posting a 4-2 record with a 3.56 ERA.
Chicago has seen the 31-year-old pitcher plenty of times in his career. DeSclafani pitched five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo has faced him 30 times posting a .233 batting average with two home runs and six strikeouts. Additionally, the Cubs’ best hitter, Kris Bryant, has solid numbers against the former Florida star. He has a .348 average to go along with two home runs. The Cubs’ third basemen had the off-day on Wednesday and will likely be back in the lineup on Thursday.
Probables: Jake Arrieta (CHI) vs. TBD (SF)
Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs in Friday’s matchup. Like Davies, Arrieta has been mediocre but has shown signs of being great. Arrieta is 5-5 with a 4.41 ERA.
The former Cy Young winner has been dominant against Giants’ hitters in his career. Only three players have more than 10 at-bats against Arrieta, catcher Buster Posey, second baseman Wilmer Flores and shortstop Brandon Crawford. None of those players are hitting better than .235 against the right-hander with Posey only having two hits in 23 plate appearances.
This will most likely be Chicago’s hardest game of the series. They will have to face Kevin Gausman, who has been one of the best pitchers this season. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is currently 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA.
The former LSU pitcher doesn’t have much experience facing the Cubs lineup. Chicago’s outfielder, Joc Pederson, has the most at-bats against Gausman (10) with the majority of those appearances coming last year.
On the other side of the mound, Chicago will once again give the rock to the 6-foot-3 right-hander, Kohl Stewart. The 26-year-old pitcher was solid in his season debut for the Cubs. Through five innings, Stewart gave up 0 earned runs on three hits and two strikeouts. He will look to bring that same result in this outing.
The Cubs will give the mound to Kyle Hendricks to close out the series. Hendricks has had an up and down season for Chicago so far. The 31-year-old right-hander is 6-4 with a 4.62 ERA. This ERA is unlike Hendricks who posted a 2.88 last season in 12 starts.
The Giants will give the rock to the most interesting pitcher in the league, Johnny Cueto. Cueto’s windup is one of the weirdest, simply because it is different every time. The two-time All-Star is off to his best start since 2016, the last time he made an All-Star appearance. The 35-year-old is 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA to start the 2021 season.
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