2023 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Detroit, Pittsburgh
The Cubs are in the midst of a soft part of their schedule and draw a pair of rebuilding clubs on the upcoming road trip.
The Tigers are 10 games under .500 and sit in 3rd place in the American League Central. The Pirates are 14 games under .500 and battling with the Cardinals for last place in the National League Central.
But as the Cubs are in the thick of a playoff race, they know they still have to take care of business regardless of their opponent’s record.
“Everyone’s a big leaguer,” Dansby Swanson said last week. “It doesn’t matter what team, it doesn’t matter what their record is. Anyone can beat anyone on any given night. We know and understand that and I think for us, we just gotta go out and continue to put our best performances forward.”
The Cubs are coming off a homestand in which they split a 2-game series with the White Sox and took 2 of 3 from the Royals over the weekend.
Monday: RHP Javier Assad vs. RHP Alex Faedo
Tuesday: LHP Drew Smyly vs. RHP Reese Olson
Wednesday: RHP Jameson Taillon vs. LHP Tarik Skubal
Assad has pitched well lately with a 1.38 ERA over his last 12 outings dating back to late-June. Much of that was working as a multi-inning reliever out of the bullpen but the Cubs opted to give the young right-hander a turn through the rotation when Drew Smyly was bumped to the bullpen.
With Marcus Stroman remaining on the IL for the foreseeable future, Assad will get a longer runway in the rotation to continue to show what he can do. Meanwhile, Smyly is making his return to the starting staff and the Cubs broke down that decision over the weekend.
Taillon got out to a slow start in his Cubs career but has turned things around lately with quality starts in 4 of his last 8 outings.
Thursday: LHP Justin Steele vs. RHP Mitch Keller
Friday: RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. TBD
Saturday: RHP Javier Assad vs. LHP Baley Falter
Sunday: LHP Drew Smyly vs. RHP Johan Oviedo
The Cubs and Pirates haven’t announced their starters for the weekend series yet, but if both teams remain on schedule, this is how things would line up.
Steele has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season and is on track to be in the running for the NL Cy Young. Hendricks is having a resurgent season after a shoulder injury cost him the entire second half of 2022 and delayed his start this year.
Quote of the Week
“We’re having so much fun in there right now. This is an awesome group. Guys just like having a good time and like winning. Winning is the No. 1 focus and it’s always better when you’re winning. We’re having a good time in the clubhouse. It’s just such a close-knit group, picking one another up day in and day out. We’re playing good baseball, focused on the fundamentals. One day at a time. We’re in a good spot, just gotta go on a good stretch here and keep it going.” — Kyle Hendricks after Sunday’s win over the Royals
Storylines to keep an eye on
—The Cubs are in the midst of a stretch of 13 straight days with games. That will culminate in a 3-game series with the Brewers at Wrigley Field that will likely play a huge role in deciding the division winner at season’s end.
—The Brewers, meanwhile, are off on both Monday and Thursday of this upcoming week so they may be well-rested coming into that series at Wrigley. Over the next week, Milwaukee will take on a pair of teams that are still fighting for the playoffs (the Twins are leading the AL Central while the Padres are clinging to life in the NL Wild-Card race).
—The Cubs will begin the road trip in sole possession of the third NL Wild-Card spot, a game up on the Reds, Marlins and Diamondbacks. The Cubs are also just 3 games behind the Brewers in the division.
—The Cubs are 22-9 in their last 31 games.