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2023 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Cincinnati

10 months agoTony Andracki

It’s a short — but important — road trip for the Cubs on a holiday weekend.

David Ross and Co. head to Cincinnati for a 4-game series in 3 days from Friday through Sunday.

The series will start with the Cubs holding a 3-game lead over the Reds in the standings, both in the division and in the National League Wild-Card race.

As of Thursday morning, the Cubs sit 3 games behind the Brewers in the division race and have a firm hold on the second Wild-Card spot.

The Giants hold the third Wild-Card spot, 2 games behind the Cubs. Then come the Diamondbacks (0.5 game out of a playoff spot) and Reds (1 game out of a playoff spot) in the standings.

Friday’s doubleheader is a makeup from a rainout in April, leaving the Cubs with 14 games to play in 13 days until their next respite on Sept. 14.

Pitching probables

Friday: LHP Jordan Wicks/TBD vs. RHP Graham Ashcraft/TBD
Saturday: RHP Javier Assad vs. LHP Andrew Abbott
Sunday: RHP Jameson Taillon vs. LHP Brandon Williamson

The Cubs and Reds have not indicated who will start the other game of Friday’s doubleheader but the Cubs will trot out rookie Wicks for his 2nd career MLB start.

Wicks was impressive in his debut last weekend in Pittsburgh, setting down the final 15 batters he faced and picking up the win. He will turn 24 on Friday.

Assad joined the rotation when Marcus Stroman landed on the IL. He has excelled with a 2.48 ERA and .198 batting average against in 5 starts while the Cubs have won all 5 of the games.

Taillon looked to be turning a corner in July and early August but has hit hard times lately with an 0-3 record and 7.84 ERA in his last 4 starts.

Quote of the Week

“That’s what this team has done. They’ve found a way to win for a while now. Scratching, clawing, overcoming adversity. Good teams, bad teams, coming back late in games, tying things up. … I talk about the character of this group — they are fun to sit and watch on a daily basis. They got a lot of grit and find a way to win. Any little detail that they can find, they’re trying to find that advantage and take advantage of it.” — David Ross after his team’s series victory over the Brewers.

Storylines to keep an eye on

—Wicks’ 2nd career start will certainly draw a lot of focus, for good reason. The team’s 1st-round pick in 2021 could be a big part of the rotation beyond this season.

—Who will the Cubs call up when rosters expand on Sept. 1? No longer are teams able to add their entire 40-man roster to the active clubhouse and instead are only allowed to expand from 26 to 28 on the roster with one pitcher and one hitter.

—While the Cubs play the Reds, the Brewers will be playing the Phillies (the team ahead of the Cubs in the Wild-Card race). So with each win the Cubs pull off this weekend, they will be gaining ground on one of the teams ahead of them in the standings.

—Will the Cubs stay hot? They have gone 11-1-1 in their last 13 series dating back to mid-July.

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