2023 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Milwaukee, New York
The Cubs start their final road series before the All-Star break this week, heading to Milwaukee and New York to take on the Brewers and Yankees.
It’s the first time the Cubs will take on Milwaukee since their Opening Weekend series in Chicago. The Cubs took 2 of 3 in that set against the Brewers. This series is a pivotal one for the Cubs as they look to make up ground in the NL Central.
The Cubs will head to Yankee Stadium for the second year in a row to take on the Bronx Bombers. The Cubs were swept in a 3-game set there last season.
Monday: LHP Drew Smyly vs. RHP Julio Teheran
Tuesday: RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. LHP Wade Miley
Wednesday: LHP Justin Steele vs. RHP Adrian Houser
Thursday: RHP Marcus Stroman vs. RHP Freddy Peralta
Smyly has struggled over his last 7 starts, pitching to a 6.00 ERA in 36 innings over that time. Wednesday against the Phillies, the lefty allowed a season-high 7 earned runs on 9 hits in just 3.2 innings of work. Smyly had been one of baseball’s best pitchers over the first month-and-a-half of the season. If the Cubs hope to crawl back in the NL Central race, having Smyly return to form will be imperative.
Hendricks has looked like his vintage self since coming off the IL. The veteran has posted a 2.81 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 7 starts this season. If you take away his first start of the year against the Mets, where he admitted he struggled to deal with the emotions of his first start in almost a year, Hendricks has a 2.41 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP and hitters are hitting just .184 against him. His return to form has been a boon for the Cubs’ rotation.
Steele will be making his first start since being named a National League All-Star on Sunday. The lefty leads the majors in ERA (2.43) and the NL in WHIP (1.03). Manager David Ross has called days in which the former 5th rounder pitches as “Win Day”. They’ll need that in Milwaukee.
Stroman’s outings have almost always been categorized as “Win Day” too. The righty has a 2.76 ERA and has created quite the two-headed monster with Steele at the top of the Cubs’ rotation. He could be in line to start the All-Star Game for the National League next week.
Friday: RHP Jameson Taillon vs. LHP Carlos Rodón
Saturday: LHP Drew Smyly vs. RHP Gerrit Cole
Sunday: RHP Kyle Hendricks vs. RHP Domingo Germán
Taillon continues to search for his form this season. The veteran righty has a 7.07 ERA this season and Sunday against the Guardians, Taillon allowed 6 runs (5 earned) in 5 innings of work.
The Yankees are lining up to have three of their horses go up against the Cubs. Rodón will be making his first start of the year after signing a 6-year deal this offseason. In his final rehab outing on Saturday with High-A, Rodón had 8 strikeouts in 3.2 shutout innings. Cole is 8-1 this season with a 2.78 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Germán just threw the first perfect game in 11 years, striking out 9 Oakland A’s in a historic outing.
Quote of the Week
“I love our team. I feel like things haven’t gone our way at all. But the commitment and the drive and the attention to detail is there. It’s just one of those things where we haven’t really clicked and we haven’t gotten on a roll. And hopefully we can come out in the second half — or even these next games we have leading up to the break, hopefully we catch fire and hopefully one win after another starts to kind of roll and we have clumps of big winning streaks. If you look at the division, it’s wide open. It’s there for the taking from anybody’s perspective. I feel like with this group of guys, if we get hot, we could be right there.” — Marcus Stroman
Storylines to keep an eye on
– It could be make-or-break time for the Cubs in the NL Central. After Sunday’s loss to Cleveland, the Cubs sit 6 games back of the Brewers ahead of their four-game set. A series win — or sweep — firmly puts the Cubs’ back in the NL Central race ahead of the All-Star Break. A series loss or sweep and the Cubs could find themselves with a hole too big to overcome.
– Can the offense regain their form? During the Cubs’ 11-3 run in early through mid-June, the offense was averaging 6.29 runs per game and had a .770 OPS. Since coming back from London, the Cubs have scored just 23 runs in 6 games (10 of which came in a 10-1 win over the Guardians on Friday). The offense needs to step back up to give the Cubs a chance of crawling back in the division.
– Nick Madrigal has been one of the lone bright spots for the Cubs’ offense in that stretch. He’s been one of the Cubs’ best hitters since being recalled from Triple-A Iowa and it’s coincided with the hot stretch that got the Cubs back in the NL Central race. He’s hitting .321/.406/.446 in that time.
– Dansby Swanson represents the Cubs’ third All-Star. He’s been terrific since signing a 7-year deal this offseason, slashing .256/.343/.401 with 9 home runs and a 3.0 WAR this season. It’s his second-straight All-Star Game nomination.