Reds vs Cubs: Preview, pitching matchups and prediction

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 29: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 29: Nick Castellanos #2 of the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 5
Next
Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the third inning of a game.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – AUGUST 23: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the third inning of a game. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubbies rotation has been solid to open the season

The Cubs (18-12) enter play today at the midway point of their 2020 schedule and it’s been starting pitching that has propelled the club to the top of the division. The 15 victories from their starters leads the National League. Additionally, their 3.6 fWAR is second only to the Reds rotation mark of 4.3 for top honors on the senior circuit.

That’s been the good news. The Chicago bullpen has provided nothing close to remotely resembling relief. Believe it or not Reds Country, the Cubbies bullpen has been worse than the Reds relief corps by a wide margin. Their 5.79 ERA is the second-worst in the NL while the 19 round-trippers they’ve surrendered is the fourth-highest total in the league.

Former closer Craig Kimbrel has been the poster boy for the Cubs bullpen struggles. Posting an 8.59 ERA, the right-hander has walked nine in 7.1 innings and has given up two homers. To his credit, Kimbrel has been unscored upon in his last five appearances. Since Kimbrel’s removal as the closer, manager David Ross has turned to right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Rowan Wick to nail down victories.

Despite having a lineup littered with All-Stars, the Cubs offense, like everyone else in the division, has struggled to dent the plate. Beginning play today their .228 average is 12th among all NL clubs. However, Chicago has managed to find a way to reach base. Their .334 on-base percentage is fourth in the NL and the 126 free passes they’ve drawn leads the league.

Once the Cubbies reach base, they go into hibernation on the base paths. Only the Cardinals have swiped fewer than the eight bases the Cubs have stolen and their dozen attempts again only bests the total of the Redbirds. Cincinnati backstops Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali should have a relatively peaceful weekend behind the plate.