The Cubs (19-21) just lost two of three in Minnesota against the Twins, including being outscored 27-4 in the two weekend losses. The starting pitching, which has been excellent all season long, had two consecutive bad outings for maybe the first time in 2023. Things don’t get any easier for Chicago with a trip to Houston for three games with the World Series champions.
The Astros (21-19) are a different team than they were last season, however, as Justin Verlander has moved on to New York while injuries have sidelined José Altuve and Michael Brantley since spring training. Altuve is nearing a return but the offense has taken a hit with a .672 team OPS, just 24th best in baseball. The hitting decline has not applied to slugger Yordan Álvarez, who has nine home runs, 37 RBI, and a .955 OPS.
Houston’s pitching has not missed a beat without Verlander in 2023. Dusty Baker‘s squad has an ERA of 3.30, which puts them neck and neck with the aforementioned Twins for second-best in MLB. Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, and Hunter Brown form an effective three-headed monster at the top of the rotation and the bullpen has been solid as well with Ryan Pressly still the closer.
The Astros have been hanging around .500 and are currently four games behind the Rangers for first place in the American League West. They also have a losing record at Minute Maid Park, although it’s hard to believe that will be a season-long phenomenon.
The Cubs are not playing very well right now and this would be a tough test even if they were. The Astros are not as good as they were last year, so they are beatable if the North Siders bring their A-game. If they don’t come ready to go, things might get ugly again.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, May 15 at 7:10pm CT on Marquee.
- Tuesday, May 16 at 7:10pm CT on TBS and Marquee.
- Wednesday, May 17 at 7:10pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Christopher Morel has three home runs in his first five games for the Cubs.
- Steele and Smyly have been very good of late and need that to keep going this series.
- Seiya Suzuki had two doubles and a home run against Minnesota.