Baseball

Series Preview – Padres vs. Cubs: Heat Death

vs.

RECORDS: Padres 46-50   Cubs 52-44

GAMETIMES: Friday-Sunday 1:20

TV: NBCSN Friday, ABC 7 Saturday, WGN Sunday

FISH TACO ENTHUSIASTS: Gaslamp Ball

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Eric Lauer vs. Jon Lester

Joey Lucchesi vs. Jose Quintana

Cal Quantrill vs. Kyle Hendricks

PROBABLE PADRES LINEUP

Fernando Tatis Jr. – SS

Eric Hosmer – 1B

Manny Machado – 3B

Hunter Renfroe – LF

Franmil Reyes – RF

Franciso Meija – C

Ian Kinsler – 2B

Manuel Margot – CF

PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP

Albert Almora Jr. – CF

Javier Baez – SS

Kris Bryant – LF

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Addison Russell – 2B

Jason Heyward – RF

David Bote – 3B

Martin Maldonado – C

 

The main story of this series probably won’t have to do much with either team, but the conditions they’ll spend the first two games in. Jon Lester might end up looking like the senator from the first X-Men movie by the 4th inning today. It is going to be hot, and gross, and sticky, and all other bad words to describe a 98-degree day with a fair amount of humidity. Basically, St. Louis.

But hey, that’s baseball, that’s summer in Chicago sometimes, and the Cubs have work to do. And while the Padres are poised to be the next big thing, next means it’s not here yet and they’ve only won four of their last 13 games. They’re coming off losing a series to the Marlins and got swept by the Braves out of the break before that, and the Cubs catch them at the end of a long road trip. So yeah, very few excuses here.

Overall, it’s not a very good offense, ranking bottom-five in runs, wOBA, and wRC+ as a team, But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some danger spots, mostly at the top. Fernando Tatis Jr., the player that makes all Sox fans hang their head in shame, missed a third of the season through injury but has been everything they could have hoped for when present. He strikes out a ton, but walks slightly more than average and hits for a ton of power for a shortstop. Considering he’s 20, getting upset about the Ks would be the height of pettiness. Manny Machado you know about, and Hunter Renfroe has hit some annoying homers against the Cubs already. Franmil Reyes is the rest of the pop with 20 homers. Manuel Margot has been hot of late, slugging over .800 the past two weeks.

The Cubs catch a break in missing Chris Paddack, probably the best rookie starter in the NL right now. Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi have been functional without being eye-popping, but Quantrill has had his struggles, though he did shut out the Braves last out over six innings. Lauer comes in on a roll as well, giving up three runs over his last three starts, though one was just four innings.

The Padres always seem to find a closer, and that’s true once again with Kirby Yates. He’s been about the only bright spot in the pen though, with a host of characters playing the role of gasoline this season. The Pads pen has the lowest walk-rate of any pen in the National League, though, so they don’t just give it to you. But other than Yates, only Craig Stammen has had sustained success and he’s had his problems lately.

For the Cubs, they’ll get Carl Edward Jr. back this weekend, at the expense of Randy Rosario so you know I’m delighted. Both the Brewers and Cardinals won last night, so the cushion is minuscule. It’s going to suck out there, but they won’t care about that when the final standings are tabulated in September. After this it’s now a pretty rough looking road trip with the Giants the hottest team in baseball at the moment before trips to both Hops-villes, USA. Everyone else, stay hydrated.

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