Home run balls were flying around like trade rumors last night as the Cubs and Reds combined for seven dingers, but Cincy actually completed a trade as well. Perhaps old friend Justin Wilson can tell Anthony Rizzo to shut up again, though a pitcher with a 7.50 ERA probably shouldn’t be running his mouth much. The Cubs can get back to .500 with wins to close the series ahead of the trade deadline, a tall task given the dark cloud hanging over them.
The Reds also completed a trade with the Rockies for righty reliever Mychal Givens, so they’re clearly intent on beefing up the bullpen for a potential run at Milwaukee. Good for them, I guess.
Rafael Ortega leads off tonight playing center, followed by Kris Bryant in left, Rizzo at first, Patrick Wisdom at third, and Matt Duffy at second. Jason Heyward bats sixth and will play right, Robinson Chirinos is next at catcher, followed by Nico Hoerner at short, covering for Javier Baez who is sitting to rest a bruised heel.
Zach Davies is coming off of two decent starts against the Diamondbacks and he’s pitched really well in two previous starts against Cincinnati this season, so the Cubs are hoping he boosts his value in this one. Davies hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since June 18 and he had a season-high eight strikeouts last week to gain a little separation between the Ks and BBs this year.
He’d do well to do more of the same in this one because he’s only registered six strikeouts with five walks over nine total innings against the Reds in ’21.
Going for the visitors is righty Tyler Mahle, who has dominated the Cubs the last two times he’s faced them after laying an egg the first time. Back on May 2, he struck out five with no walks but also gave up three homers among the nine hits he surrendered in five innings of work. Two of those homers were hit by Bryant, who boasts a 1.421 OPS against Mahle.
On May 30, Mahle struck out eight with one walk and just one hit over five scoreless innings. He allowed only one earned run (two total) over five innings on July 3, but that run came on — you guessed it — a KB homer.
This game could come down to whether or not Mahle’s cutter/slider is working, as that is his favorite secondary. He’s throwing it a lot more this season, nearly 35%, and the results have been less than stellar overall. It was good against the Cubs in that second start, though, and it can be a real weapon when it’s sharp.
Mahle’s mid-90’s fastball has been solid and his firm splitter has been his best weapon this season, so having all three pitches working makes him dangerous. That splitter is actually what helped him stifle the Cubs earlier in the month, though it’s been very spotty since.
This game is really about playing out the string and making it to Friday, but we’ve seen some fireworks in the first two games and all the deadline anxiety could make for some interesting events. First pitch from Wrigley is set for 7:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 28, 2021