While the Cincinnati Reds might finally be heating up, the Chicago Cubs are not playing like the first-place club they’ve been most of the season.
Riding a three-game winning streak, the visiting Reds look to continue their surge and extend the visiting Cubs’ three-game slide Saturday, when they continue their series with a doubleheader.
Chicago leads the NL Central, but is 5-10 since winning 13 of its first 16. The Cubs suffered a 6-5 loss Friday to the Reds, who are still below .500, but have totaled 18 runs during their three-game run after scoring six while losing the previous four.
“Obviously, when you get some results and win some games, confidence starts to grow,” said Reds outfielder and former Cub Nick Castellanos, 5-for-11 in his last three games, on Cincinnati’s official website.
Saturday’s Game 1 starting pitchers should have plenty of confidence.
Chicago’s Yu Darvish (5-1, 1.70 ERA) has been exceptional of late, allowing four runs and striking out 39 over 33 innings to win his last five starts. The right-hander was stellar in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the sizzling Chicago White Sox, giving up a solo homer, five other hits and fanning 10 over seven innings.
“Let’s just say I’m happy that he’s on our team,” teammate Kyle Schwarber told the Cubs’ official website.
“No one’s looking forward to facing Yu Darvish whenever he’s on the mound.”
Darvish will face the Reds for the first time in 2020. He went 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts against them last season.
He’ll be opposed by Trevor Bauer (3-1, 1.65 ERA), who is coming off his first loss of 2020. After allowing two runs in his first four starts, the right-hander was tagged for four and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 4-1 defeat at Milwaukee on Monday.
Bauer, a stellar 4-0 with an 0.68 ERA in four regular-season starts against the Cubs, has also been dominant in these 2020 seven-inning doubleheaders. In the two he’s made versus Detroit and Kansas City, Bauer has yielded three hits without a run in going the distance over both.
In Game 2, the Cubs appear set to go with Alec Mills (3-2, 4.55 ERA), who allowed two runs on two hits in six innings to win at Cincinnati on July 28 and no runs on three hits over seven innings to beat Kansas City on August 3.
However, he’s 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA since then. The right-hander, though, was solid enough on Monday at Detroit, when he allowed three runs over seven innings of a 9-3 win.
It’s uncertain if Chicago pitchers will see Joey Votto on Saturday. The Reds veteran first baseman has essentially been benched by manager David Bell while batting .191 this season and he’s currently mired in an 0-for-18 stretch.
The Reds are slated to start reliever Tejay Antone (0-1, 1.65 ERA) in the nightcap. In his only other 2020 start, the right-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing a run, two hits and four walks of a 2-0 loss at Cleveland on Aug. 5.
Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez is heating up with four homers in his last six games. Teammate Jesse Winker is 7-for-11 with three home runs and five RBIs over the last three contests.
Chicago’s Jason Heyward is 4-for-9 with a homer in his last three.
–Field Level Media