The Cubs (18-19) were able to avoid being swept by the rival Cardinals this week, a disappointing result after taking two of three from the Marlins to begin their homestand. The big issue continues to be the inability to hit with runners in scoring position, which is causing numerous close losses despite continued quality starts from the rotation.
Chicago has attempted to address these offensive issues by calling up Matt Mervis and Christopher Morel, both of whom were laying waste to Triple-A pitching through April. They need some kind of spark because the rest of May features games against winning teams or clubs that made the playoffs last season. First up is a three-game set with the Twins starting Friday at Target Field.
Minnesota (21-17) is in first place in an incredibly weak AL Central division. In fact, they are the only team in the division with a winning record at the moment. Offense has been a big problem for Rocco Baldelli‘s squad so far, with a .686 OPS and a league-worst .220 team batting average. Carlos Correa, who took a circuitous route back to the Twins this offseason, has gotten off to a brutal start hitting under .200 with a .643 OPS.
The pitching for the Twinkies has been terrific with a 3.29 team ERA that stands second behind only the mighty Tampa Bay Rays. Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray in particular have been great early and Pablo López, acquired from Miami, has also been good. Jhoan Duran and Jorge Lopez have stood out in the bullpen so far.
This is shaping up to be a low-scoring series with close contests that may come down to late-inning execution. The Cubs have not fared well in those types of games this season, though coming through against the Cardinals on Wednesday may spur a hot-hitting stretch. It would definitely make things a lot easier for everyone involved.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, May 12 at 7:10pm CT on Apple TV+.
- Saturday, May 13 at 1:10pm CT on Marquee.
- Sunday, May 14 at 1:10pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Nico Hoerner missed the final two games of the Cardinals series after tweaking his hamstring. Manager David Ross said it was expected to be a day-to-day injury so he may play this series.
- Stroman has allowed just five runs in his last three starts but the Cubs have only scored four in support.
- Morel has four hits in his first two games at the MLB level in 2023, two of which went for extra bases.
- Former top prospect Byron Buxton leads Minnesota with eight home runs this season.