Cubs vs Diamondbacks Series Preview (April 19-21): TV and Game Info, Starting Pitchers, Insights
Coming off a sweep of the dismantled-for-spare-parts Marlins, the Cubs are feeling good returning to Wrigley with their best record since they were 1-1. Now at 8-9 and still in the infancy of an already manic 2019 season, the Cubs could conceivably be in first place by Sunday evening if they take care of business against the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers do them a solid and sweep the Brew Crew.
Following a series in Miami where all three phases of play looked pretty darn good, the Cubs will look to continue the same kind of stellar play that saw them outscore the Marlins 17-2. If the Cubs can hold teams to two runs in an entire series, Chicagoland Menards locations will be running specials on brooms all summer long.
The Diamondbacks (9-9) have been something of a nettling nemesis in recent years, but they’re a different team now that Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock aren’t around. Anchored in 2019 by an outfield of David Peralta, Adam Jones, and Jerome Dyson (hitting .328 combined), the Diamondbacks find themselves in much the same boat as the Cubs early in the season. Having undulated disparately in an already tempestuous sea of wins and losses, Arizona started 1-3, won four of five, then dropped five of six.
With a win at home against San Diego in the last game of that series, followed by their a three game sweep of Atlanta, the Diamondbacks and Cubs seem to be getting hot simultaneously.
The Cubs will look to continue their winning ways against a guy they’ve never seen before in right-hander Merrill Kelly, who is coming off a four-year stint in Korea. Then they face a couple of guys they’ve seen a little bit in righty Zack Greinke and lefty Robbie Ray. The Diamondbacks’ starters haven’t been stellar so far this season, but the back end of their pen with Archie Bradley and Greg Holland has been very good.
Cubs pitchers have had an impressive run since the loss of Jon Lester on April 8, giving up only 14 runs in 70 innings (1.8 runs per game). Kyle Hendricks has not been up to his usual standards to start the season, while Yu Darvish has slowly worked up to speed, literally. José Quintana will start the series finale on Sunday afternoon after two previous dominant starts.
The offense will keep riding Javier Báez, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, and newcomer Daniel Descalso, with the hope that the struggling Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Kyle Schwarber (3-for-27 combined in the sweep of the Marlins) come around so that the bats can start firing on all cylinders.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
Friday, April 19 at 1:20pm on NBC Sports Chicago
Saturday, April 20 at 1:20pm on ABC-7
Sunday, April 21 at 1:20pm on NBC Sports Chicago and ESPN+
*Note: The Cubs rearranged the rotation to have Tyler Chatwood start Sunday.
What to Watch For
- Hendricks has not been his usual self so far this season since signing a 4-year, $55 million extension right before the season started. Hendricks struggled at the beginning of last year as well before righting the ship; look for him to start on that course against the D-backs Friday afternoon.
- Bryant, Rizzo, and Schwarber are all struggling to start the year. If they pick it up and start clicking the way the bottom of the order has been, look out.
- Darvish had a somewhat promising start in Miami where he ended his night on three pitches at 98, 99, and 99 mph. If Darvish is healthy and can start reining in that stuff, he presents a tough task for opposing hitters and a different look in a rotation that doesn’t feature power arms.
- The other guys are carrying the offense. Let’s not pull any punches: If you expected Heyward and Descalso to be prized contributors in an offense that’s slogging along without many of the big bats showing up, you’re lying. Descalso has raked to the tune of a 153 WRC+ and Heyward has a 166. While no one expects this to continue, Cubs fans will gladly accept their scorching starts.
- Báez could be the best player in the National League and lose the MVP to Christian Yelich again in 2019. When he goes the other way and is hitting sliders to right field with authority, he’s a different player. Báez has soooooo much raw talent and ability that when he realizes all that potential, he’s quite literally the best all-around player in the National League (no apologies to Yelich though, who is basically Ted Williams at the plate right now).
- Contreras continues his resurgence after a subpar 2018. Looking like the guy who carried the Cubs’ offense for parts of 2017, Contreras looks refreshed and reinvigorated at the plate so far in 2019; now if he could just be a little bit quieter back behind the dish…baby steps.
- Quintana was just toying with Cubs’ fans, saving his reserve NOS tanks until Eloy Jimenez actually made it to the show.