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2024 Cubs Road Trip Preview: Boston, New York

4 weeks agoTony Andracki

The Cubs hit the road for a pair of series on the East Coast as they are in the midst of a stretch of 16 games in 16 days.

Their next off-day does not come until May 9 and they only have 2 days off in the entire month of May (also May 20).

This will be the Cubs’ first trip to Boston since April 2017 and they’ll be taking on a Red Sox team that is hovering around .500.

The Mets have also been near the .500 mark all season as both big-market squads entered the year with muted expectations.

Pitching probables

Boston

Friday: LHP Shota Imanaga vs. RHP Kutter Crawford
Saturday: TBD vs. RHP Josh Winckowski
Sunday: LHP Jordan Wicks vs. RHP Tanner Houck

Saturday is Kyle Hendricks’ spot in the rotation but since “The Professor” is now on the IL, the Cubs have options for that game.

They could go with an opener or roll out one of their young right-handers like Ben Brown or Hayden Wesneski. Worth noting: Wesneski threw 20 pitches in 2.1 innings of work during Thursday’s win over the Astros.

Imanaga continues to impress early in his first MLB season and carries a sparkling 3-0 record and 0.84 ERA into this start at Fenway Park.

Jordan Wicks is coming off his best start of the season when he allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

The Red Sox righties have been very good this season — Crawford has a 0.66 ERA and Houck sits at 1.65 — so the Cubs will have their work cut out for them this weekend.

New York

Monday: RHP Jameson Taillon vs. RHP Luis Severino
Tuesday: RHP Javier Assad vs. LHP Sean Manaea
Wednesday: LHP Shota Imanaga vs. RHP José Buttó
Thursday: TBD vs. RHP Adrian Houser

Taillon has been dealing since returning from a back injury, posting a 1.69 ERA in his first 2 starts of the season.

Assad continues to impress in the Cubs rotation and after another strong outing (1 ER in 5.1 innings Thursday), he boasts a 2.00 ERA on the year.

The Cubs will be in the same boat again on Thursday as they try to navigate their rotation without Hendricks. Drew Smyly is also on the IL and will not be an option until mid-May (or after).

Justin Steele is nearing a return, but that likely will not come on the road trip. He is throwing a 3-inning game in extended Spring Training at the Cubs complex in Arizona on Friday.

With Caleb Kilian also on the IL, the only other pitchers the Cubs have on their 40-man roster in the minors as potential reinforcements are Porter Hodge, José Cuas and Daniel Palencia — three righties who are all currently working out of the bullpen in Triple-A Iowa.

Quote of the Week

“One of my favorite things about this team and these guys is how professional they’ve been about the weather. Because these are not ideal baseball conditions, to understate it. And it’s been impressive to see how they have handled these nights and these days with the thought that like, ‘maybe I can be mentally tougher than the next guy.’ And that’s that’s a pretty cool way to handle it.” — Craig Counsell on his players dealing with frigid, windy and rainy conditions at Wrigley Field early this season.

Storylines to keep an eye on

—Steele’s return is on the horizon and the team should provide an update on his next steps following Friday’s rehab outing in Arizona. The Cubs could certainly use their ace back in the rotation as they navigate a grueling stretch of schedule.

—Seiya Suzuki is continuing his road to recovery from an oblique injury. He started doing light baseball activities during the Cubs’ homestand and could progress to more intense rehab during the road trip.

—The Cubs will be without Cody Bellinger for at least the next few weeks as he recovers from a pair of fractured ribs. In his place, the Cubs will likely utilize veteran Mike Tauchman most often in center field, though top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong started and collected his first career hit — a game-winning homer — in Thursday’s win.

—When the Cubs return from the road trip, they will welcome the Brewers – Craig Counsell’s former team – to Wrigley Field for a 3-game set.

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