Reds limp into Wrigley Field looking for Alexis Diaz to save the day vs. the Cubs

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages
2 of 3

Previewing the pitching matchups: Reds vs. Cubs

Cincinnati Reds starter Graham Ashcraft vs. Chicago Cubs starter Adrian Sampson

Rookie Graham Ashcraft (5-4 4.18 ERA) takes the mound in this afternoon's opener opposing Adrian Sampson (3-5 3.23 ERA) of the Cubs. This start can only go better than Ashcraft's previous two outings versus Chicago.

The Reds' right-hander has been rocked for 10 earned runs and 13 hits in just 8.2 innings in a pair of appearances against the North Siders. A trio of Cubs hitters have been especially difficult to retire for the Alabama native. Ian Happ, Franmil Reyes, and Patrick Wisdom are a combined 6- for-12 with two round-trippers when facing Ashcraft.

Even though he's winless in four career starts against the Reds, Adrian Sampson has had no problems retiring Redlegs not named Jake Fraley. The Reds outfielder is 4-for-5 with a double against the 30-year-old right-hander.

Cincinnati Reds starter Nick Lodolo vs. Chicago Cubs starter TBD

Fellow rookie Nick Lodolo (4-7 3.75 ERA) toes the rubber Saturday for the Cincinnati Reds. Chicago manager David Ross has yet to announce his starter for the afternoon tilt. He may only have one victory to show for it, but the Cincinnati southpaw has been excellent in his last seven starts.

Tossing 43.2 frames, Lodolo has fanned 54 and hasn't allowed more than three runs in six consecutive outings while compiling a solid 3.30 ERA over that time span. To say the 24-year-old left-hander has dominated lefties is an understatement. Left-handed hitters are slashing an anemic .109/.226/.130 in 53 plate appearances.

Cincinnati Reds starter Chase Anderson vs. Chicago Cubs starter Marcus Stroman

Sunday's matinee series finale will feature Chase Anderson (2-3 4.70 ERA) battling Marcus Stroman (5-7 3.66 ERA) for the Cubs. Reds manager David Bell may keep Anderson on a short leash, but there's no denying the right-hander's effectiveness in his last four starts.

In 18 innings of work, Anderson has surrendered just nine hits and five runs while recording 17 punch outs. How good was the 34-year-old Texan the last time he defeated the Cubs? How about seven shutout frames of one-hit baseball good in a June 12, 2018 start as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

I'm not sure what the Cubs thought they were getting when they signed Marcus Stroman to a two-year $50M deal, but it's safe to say it's more than what they've received from the right-hander. The former All-Star has posted his lowest ERA+ (112) since the 2018 season, and his 1.1 HR/9 rate is the second highest mark of his eight-year career.