A homestand that started with so much promise ended with the Cubs clutching to an even record. Luckily, they were able to salvage the last game against the Rockies by breaking out the power. Right now, “inconsistent” describes the Cubs perfectly. The bats could be loud one game and then go completely quiet the next, so you never really know what’s in store for this team.
The same can be said for the pitching, which yesterday’s game perfectly epitomized. The starter will have an overall good start, with an inning or two mired in horribleness. All is not lost, however, because the Cubs still stand at .500 and within striking distance of the NL Central lead. If they string wins together and limit the losses they still have an opportunity to grab hold of the lead.
In the upcoming series, the Cubs face another opponent that has been struggling this season. Among other things, the New York Mets have been forced to deal with the loss of Yoenis Cespedes for the entire month of May and some of June. He has only appeared in two games so far this month after suffering a hamstring strain and then trying to come back too soon. In his return to the Mets lineup, he smashed a grand slam in the 9th inning of a 6-1 win over the Braves. Rookie phenom Michael Conforto has performed admirably in Cespedes’s stead, slashing .293/.412/.592 in 233 plate appearances this year.
The Mets have had issues with their starting staff all year long as well. Noah Syndergaard going to the disabled list with a partially torn lat muscle did not help matters, and Steven Matz has also lost time due to injury. It’s just another chapter in the inability of the Mets to keep their talented young arms healthy. Zack Wheeler leads the starters with a 3.45 ERA, but their team 4.76 ERA ranks 26th in the majors. Closing games for the Mets these days is Addison Reed, who you might recognize from his early career with the White Sox.
As a team, the Mets are slashing .245/.321/.434 and have hit 87 home runs, which is just ahead of the 81 dingers the Cubs have hit. The Mets’ 299 runs scored ranks 11th best in the majors, so not terrible. One thing the Mets do well is hit the ball hard, as evidenced by a 35.2 percent hard-hit rate, good for fifth best in the majors. To limit this team’s power, the Cubs will have to either miss bats or induce ground balls at a high rate, which the Mets don’t do often (38.2 groundball rate, second lowest in the league). That will be a challenge for a pitching staff that induces ground balls 47% of the time.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, June 12 at 6:10 CT on CSN
- Tuesday, June 13 at 6:10 CT on ABC-7
- Wednesday, June 14 at 6:10 CT on CSN
What to Watch For
Look for the Cubs to pound the ball low in the zone to induce ground balls against this team that primarily lifts the ball in the air and does not strike out often.
Cubs hitters should walk often this series, as the Mets have the fourth highest walk rate as a staff. Their tendency to give the opposition free bases plays perfectly into the Cubs’ patient hands. Now, the Cubs’ ability to take advantage of the walks they should receive is a completely different story that has been well-chronicled at this point.
Also look for how the Cubs’ power comes into play. In two of the four games against the Rockies they did not have an extra-base hit, but on Sunday they hit four home runs and three doubles. Perhaps Sunday’s game was an indicator that the Cubs will heat up. Then again, it could be just another example of the inconsistency we’ve seen from them throughout the season.
I would not be surprised if the Cubs power their way to a series win/sweep. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the series turns out the exact opposite, because the Cubs have not been great on the road with a 11-16 record.