Despite dropping the series finale in Pittsburgh, the Cubs (29-23) took two of three games against the Pirates to remain in second place in the NL Central, 4.5 games in back of first-place Milwaukee.
While the offense only scored once in the final game, the Cubs had little difficulty reaching base in the series, pounding out 35 hits to go along with 13 walks against the Buccos. The real star of the series, however, was the Chicago bullpen, as the relievers combined to allow two runs on seven hits and two walks over 9 1/3 innings. That line includes a hiccup in the bottom of the 9th in game two that accounted for four of the hits and both of the runs.
With the series in Pittsburgh wrapped up, the Cubs head to New York to continue their road trip with a four-game set against the Mets.
After a hot start to the season that saw them end April in first place in the NL East with a 17-9 record, the Mets have scuffled since the calendar turned to May. They enter this series in fourth place at 27-26, 4.5 games behind division-leading Washington.
A big reason for New York’s struggles since their torrid start? Injuries.
In May alone, the Mets have placed Yoenis Céspedes (strained right hip), Todd Frazier (strained left hamstring), Juan Lagares (left toe surgery) and Wilmer Flores (lower back soreness) on the disabled list. While all but Lagares are expected back relatively soon, their absence has contributed to a rough stretch for the offense that has seen the Mets score an average of 3.59 runs per game over the past 27 games. That average places them ahead of only San Diego, Miami and Arizona over that same time frame.
One player who has not struggled at the plate for the Mets this season is shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. While the 32-year-old has had strong offensive years in the past, his 2018 has been head and shoulders above any previous seasons. Through 52 games, Cabrera is hitting .310/.349/.542 with 10 home runs, a wRC+ of 144 and an ISO of .232.
In addition to the offensive struggles, May has been unkind to the Mets on the mound also, as their 4.53 team ERA over the month ranks 12th in the NL. As if that wasn’t bad enough, New York was dealt a big blow recently when yet another key player made his way to the disabled list.
After missing most of 2017 with a lat injury, Noah Syndergaard was back to looking like one of the best pitchers in baseball. Through 11 starts, Thor was 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA and 2.55 FIP, good for 1.9 fWAR. However, Syndergaard became the latest Met to join the walking wounded when he was placed on the DL earlier this week with a strained index finger on his pitching hand.
Preceding Syndergaard on the DL was Jacob deGrom, who made his way on the shelf after hyperextending his elbow while taking a swing in early May. DeGrom is back, however, and has continued his dominant 2018, going 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA, 2.12 FIP and 1.01 WHIP over 11 starts. The right-hander has been worth 2.5 fWAR so far and has allowed one or zero earned runs in all but two of his starts this season.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Thursday, May 31 at 6:10 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago
- Friday, June 1 at 6:10 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago Plus
- Saturday, June 2 at 6:15 p.m. CT on Fox
- Sunday, June 3 at 12:10 p.m. CT on ABC 7 and MLB Network (out-of-market only)
What to Watch For
- Although Kris Bryant is having yet another strong season (.281/.396/.519), the Chicago third baseman has been scuffling of late. Over his past 10 games, Bryant is hitting just .209/.292/.279 with a wRC+ of 59 and has seen his on-base percentage dip below .400 for the first time this season.
- Cabrera has probably been looking forward to this series against Chicago. In nine career games against the Cubs, he has put up a .353/.361/.735 slash line with four home runs and a wRC+ of 183.
- Can Jason Heyward continue his recent level of production at the plate? Since coming off of the concussion DL on May 18, Heyward has hit .357/.406/.536 with a wRC+ of 151. While that is only 10 games and all small sample caveats still apply, any positive development with Heyward’s bat is welcome.