By: Alex Patt
This is arguably the biggest week for the Chicago Cubs in terms of opponent matchups. The Cubs faced the team the are battling in the division and two possible playoff matchups come October. The Cubs took 2/3 from the Brewers to maintain 1st place for the time being and then lost 2/3 from the Wild Card leading Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field in an odd series.
The Cubs scored a total of seven runs at Miller Park over last weekend and took the series while the Cubs scored 24 runs in the Diamondback series and lost 2/3. 16 of those runs came in game one in their 16-4 victory which saw Jon Lester hit his first MLB home run and record his 2000th career strikeout…and NOT getting the win. He was at 100 pitches before the 5th and did not make it to qualify for the win. Five total home runs were hit in that game including Baez, Rizzo (2) and Happ along with Lester’s. The next night the offense was shutout 3-0 and then the oddest of games in the finale when the Cubs were down 6-1, took a 7-6 lead in the 7th, coughed it up in the top of the 8th, tied it in the bottom of the 8th then coughed it back up again in the 9th as Wade Davis gave up back-to-back solo shots to Paul Goldschmidt and JD Martinez, Goldy hit three home runs that day. This all happened within three different rain delays.
The Diamondbacks have risen from the ashes and performed to the level they were supposed to last year. Their pitching and offense has been overall really good and look to be in the postseason. The Dodgers right now are destined to be the 1st slot in baseball so whoever wins the wild card game would face them in the NLDS. The Cubs on the other hand if they do in fact win this division (yes, I said if, there are zero done deals in baseball), then they would face the Nationals, the next opponent this week.
The Cubs are 2-2 vs Washington so far and have three more games to play against them at Wrigley Field. The Cubs will have Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey and Jon Lester on the bump in this series. It is interesting to note that the Cubs will miss facing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg this weekend after facing both of them at Nationals Park earlier this year. Even so, this will be a tough series facing the National lineup with Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy rounding it all out.
Hendricks will make his third start since coming back from the DL, hoping to pick up where he left off in Milwaukee which was a very solid outing 5.0 IP and one earned run. John Lackey has settled in nicely as the fifth starter, his last four games he has a 3.27 ERA and averages 5-6 innings per start which is what you normally would want out of a fifth starter. Jon Lester hoping to go deeper in the ballgame next time around has overall been fantastic in the 2nd half so far. This will be a good series and hopefully not the last between these two teams this season.