A 7-2 homestand had everyone feeling as though the Cubs had turned their dissapointingly mediocre 2017 season around, but all those positive sentiments came crashing down as the defending champs were swept in a very embarrassing fashion by the Dodgers. The team looks to bounce back this week against a San Diego squad with the second-worst winning percentage in the MLB.
For what it’s worth, Joe Maddon remains confident.
“Please, go ahead and freak out,” the intellectual manager said following Sunday’s loss. “If you want to freak out, freak out.”
PREVIEWING THE CUBS
They couldn’t manage a single run and could only conjure five hits over the span of two games in L.A., but when Clayton Kershaw hit the mound against them, the lineup put up four runs in four innings. That’s baseball for you.
Regardless, four runs in three games is not ideal, and Ian Happ specifically exemplifies this offensive insufficiency; the slugging newcomer had a 1-for-12 weekend with 7 strikeouts. He’ll most likely be seeing — at the very least — one day of rest this week.
Another reason putting up runs seems to be difficult is the recent loss of the red-hot Ben Zobrist to injury. Before wrist problems arose, Zobrist had an incredible week in which he slashed .400/.438/.933. His anticipated return Monday will hopefully provide a much-needed spark to the lifeless batting order.
Of a collectively struggling starting rotation, Kyle Hendricks, Eddie Butler, and Jake Arrieta will be attempting to upend their season trends to this point in Petco Park. Hendricks has found the most success of any Cub pitcher recently, pitching to a 2.19 May ERA, and having won two straight starts.
Butler may be pitching for his metaphorical life as Brett Anderson continues to work towards healing a back injury. Control issues still pester him, but Butler has still only given up a total of three earned runs in 14 innings at the MLB level. An outing against San Diego should only improve his already-impressive ERA.
PREVIEWING THE PADRES
Nearly everyone expected the Padres to be one of the worst teams in the MLB this year. Nearly everyone was right.
At Memorial Day, they sit dead last in the N.L. West with a record of 19-33. In May alone, they’ve earned an 8-17 record.
This season, San Diego owns an MLB-worst team batting average of .220, they’ve scored the 29th most runs, and their pitchers have allowed the highest amount of earned runs.
In fact, their highest individual batting average among players with more than 100 at bats belongs to Wil Myers, who’s hitting .265. Ryan Schimpf has clobbered 13 homers, but has only 11 non-homerun hits.
In terms of pitching, the Padres will toss out veteran Jarred Cosart, who has not yet pitched to the sixth inning in 2017 and has missed a month with a hamstring injury, rookie Dinelson Lamet, who made his debut last week and surrendered only one run through five innings, and Luis Perdomo, who has handed his opponents three or more runs in all but two of his 2017 starts.
And, of course, you’ll notice THREE 2016 Cubs that are now donning a darker shade of San Diego blue. Clayton Richard and Matt Szczur will all be opposing their former team this week, but Trevor Cahill is on the disabled list and won’t be able to join.
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Monday, May 29 3:40 p.m. / ABC 7 / AM 670 The Score
Tuesday, May 30 9:10 p.m. / CSN-C+ / AM 670 The Score
Wednesday, May 31 2:40 p.m. / WGN / AM 670 The Score
RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-2, 3.25 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) vs. RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.75 WHIP)
RHP Eddie Butler (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
RHP Jake Arrieta (5-4, 4.92 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. RHP Luis Perdomo (0-2, 5.61 ERA, 1.48 WHIP)
Hendricks continues to get better and throws eight shutout innings, paving the way to a 7-0 victory. Butler maintains the scoreless streak through six more innings until the bullpen blows it, but homers from Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist carry the Cubs to an 8-2 win. The sweep is completed despite a mediocre start from Arrieta, as every Cub gets at least one hit off of Perdomo. The Cubbies take back first place in the N.L. Central, and all is once again right with the world.