Cubs News

2023 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Cincinnati

1 year agoTony Andracki

The Cubs head to Cincinnati to kick off their first road series of the season on Monday after opening 2023 with a 3-game set against the Brewers at Wrigley Field.

All 3 games will be on Marquee Sports Network.

With 5:40 p.m. CT starts on Monday and Tuesday, Cubs Live! will kick off coverage at 4:30 p.m. First pitch of Wednesday’s getaway day game will be at 11:35 p.m.

The Cubs are coming off a series loss to the Brewers. After a 4-0 victory on Opening Day, the Cubs dropped the final 2 games of the weekend to Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Reds are 2-1 after winning the series against the Pirates to open the 2023 campaign.

The Reds are in the midst of a rebuild and lost 100 games a year ago, their worst season since 1982. They haven’t finished higher than 3rd place in the National League Central since winning the division in 2012.

Cincinnati was not particularly active over the winter with outfielder/first baseman Wil Myers serving as the team’s main signing.

This season will be Joey Votto’s 17th in the big leagues but he’s still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery and will miss this series with the Cubs.

The Cubs were 11-8 against the Reds last season.

Pitching probables

Monday: LHP Drew Smyly vs. Connor Overton
Tuesday: RHP Hayden Wesneski vs. RHP Luis Cessa
Wednesday: RHP Marcus Stroman vs. RHP Hunter Greene

The Cubs are finishing up their first turn through the rotation, as Smyly and Wesneski each make their 2023 debuts.

Smyly signed with the team ahead of last season and after dealing with an oblique injury that cost him more than a month, the veteran southpaw was a stabilizing force in the rotation down the stretch. He ended up posting a 7-8 record with a 3.47 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

The Cubs re-signed the 33-year-old in December to once again provide a reliable option on the starting staff, especially with Kyle Hendricks still recovering from a shoulder injury.

Wesneski entered spring in a competition with Javier Assad and Adrian Sampson for the final rotation spot and earned the gig with a stellar spring. He carried a 2.12 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 5 starts, striking out 22 batters in 17 innings.

[MORE: ‘I was speechless’: How Hayden Wesneski found out — and celebrated — that he was in Cubs’ rotation]

The 25-year-old right-hander turned heads in his cup of coffee with the big-league club last season, sporting a 2.18 ERA in 6 games (4 starts). The Cubs initially acquired Wesneski last summer from the Yankees in exchange for Scott Effross at the trade deadline.

Stroman picked up the win on Opening Day with 6 shutout innings against the Brewers. He’ll oppose Greene, the young Reds phenom who lights up the radar gun (he averaged 99 mph on his fastball as a rookie last season).

Quote of the week

Speaking of Stroman’s Opening Day start, he heaped praise on the Cubs fanbase for the reception he got throughout his outing — especially as he walked out to the bullpen to warm up Thursday afternoon.

“Honestly I’m just super thankful and grateful to be in this moment and to have that energy,” Stroman said. “This fanbase is truly special. I’ve played in this league for a while now and to have a fanbase that shows up like that before the game, during the game, it’s truly incredible and special.

“I get the chills when I walk out there before the game and I love to take that all in. That’s why we work as hard as we do to be in these moments. I just love to give that energy and that love back to the fans. They get there super early and I could feel the passion from them the second I step out of that dugout. So I want them to know that I love it. I love it all, from the bottom of my heart.”

Storylines to keep an eye on

—With MLB’s new schedule, the Cubs will take on each team around the league this season, which means fewer games against their division. So instead of three trips a year to Cincinnati, the Cubs are only heading to Great American Ballpark twice this season — this week and then they won’t be back until the final month (Sept. 1-3).

—Ian Happ, who went to college at the University of Cincinnati, is always very comfortable hitting at Great American Ballpark. In 43 career games, he is slashing .313/.411/.729 (1.140 OPS) with 16 homers and 36 RBI.

—Dansby Swanson is off to a blazing hot start with the Cubs. In addition to some stellar defensive work at shortstop, he also went 7-for-12 at the plate to open the season while scoring 2 runs and driving in a pair. His 7 hits in his first 3 games with the team is tied for 5th most all time in franchise history and the highest total since Emilio Bonifacio tallied 11 hits in his first 3 games in 2014.

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