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Series Preview #7: Diamondbacks at Cubs

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Diamondbacks head into the North Side of Chicago for a three game set, the second leg of the current ten game road trip. The Cubs and Dbacks are both coming off three-game sweeps of their previous series, setting up a good match up of teams with a good amount of momentum at their backs.

Coming into this set, the Cubs are a game below .500, however are trending up, winning seven out of their last ten. The Dbacks, on the other hand, are one game above .500, but have split their last ten games. Both teams are sitting in the middle of the pack in their divisions, with the Cubs in fourth place, 2.5 games back of the Pirates , and the Dbacks in third, 2 games back of the Dodgers.

Game 1: Merrill Kelly (1-1, 3.79 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-3, 5.40 ERA, 2.18 WHIP)

Hendricks has not had the best start to the year. In three starts so far, he has yet to get a quality start, nor has he been able to last longer than five innings or more than 100 pitches. He is trending upwards though, only giving up three runs in five innings in his last start. The Diamondbacks will look to jump on him early and get to the Cubs bullpen to set the tone for the series.

Kelly has had a little of everything in his first three games. Two pretty average games and one stellar, 8 IP, 1 R game. No matter which one we get, it’s a perfectly acceptable outcome for a pitcher that no one expected much from. Advantage Dbacks

Game 2: Zack Greinke (2-1, 5.79 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) vs. Yu Darvish (1-2, 6.11 ERA, 1.76 WHIP)

Yu Darvish has continued to struggle to live up to the contract the Cubs gave him before the start of the 2018 season. After getting rocked on Opening Day, he’s settled down some, but still not looking like a pitcher who makes. more per game than the average American makes per year. However, per MLB.com, last start he brought back his two-seam fastball for the first time this season, and it worked well for him. He struck out eight and only allowed two runs over 5 2/3, in what was easily his best start of the season.

On the flip side, you have Greinke, who has been slowly lowering his ERA over the past few starts, most recently culminating in his great game against the Padres where he only allowed two runs over seven innings, on only four hits. Also, he is batting .444 with two home runs and an OPS of 1.722. However, he has historically struggled at Wrigley, averaging almost one earned run per inning pitched in his career there. Depending on which version of each pitcher we get, this one might be a slug fest. Slight advantage Dbacks.

Game 3: Robbie Ray (0-1, 4.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) vs. Jose Qintana (2-1, 3.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)

Jose Quintana hasn’t given up a run in his last two starts (14 IP), and he’s racked up 18 strike outs over that time. And while the most recent of those games was against the Marlins, the first of the two was against the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates.

A lot of digital ink has been spilled about Mr. Ray in recent days. First he made some not particularly great comments about not planning on adapting his approach to his starts. Then he got knocked around by the Braves, thanks in part to his lack of control. He’s given up at least four walks in all but one of his starts this season, and in his start against the Braves, he wasn’t able to stop them from making good contact either, giving up seven hits. Advantage Cubs

Conclusion:

I like the Diamondbacks for this series. The first pitching matchup I think is pretty clearly in favor of the Diamondbacks. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the Cubs for Ray Day, but worst case for the second game is a knock down, drag out fight, which I think favors the Diamondback’s offense, which has been hot much more than it’s been cold so far. I’d say the Dbacks take two of three, and who knows? If Ray has it this time around, maybe they lock up a winning road trip before they even get to Pittsburgh.