The Cubs (64-59) did not play their best baseball in a weekend series against the Royals but they were able to take two of three and move into the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Now they head out on the road for a trip to Detroit and Pittsburgh beginning Monday with a trio of games against the Tigers (57-67).
Things haven’t gone great in the Motor City in 2023, though the Tigers are at least ahead of the Royals and the White Sox in the AL Central. They have a 17-17 record in the second half and are only 1.5 games behind the reeling Guardians for second place.
The Tigers’ pitching staff has a solid but certainly not spectacular 4.42 team ERA, 19th best in baseball. Eduardo Rodriguez has become the de facto staff ace with Michael Lorenzen traded to Philadelphia, but he won’t start in thid series. Former Cubs first-round pick Alex Lange is the closer with 18 saves in 2023.
Detroit’s offense is just dreadful with a .678 OPS, ahead of only the Oakland A’s for last in baseball. The biggest threat in the lineup is probably slugging first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who has 22 home runs and has been red hot recently with six dingers this month. Young outfielders Riley Greene and Kerry Carpenter have been playing well and are dangerous.
One player who is definitely not striking fear in opposing pitchers is Javy Báez. The former All-Star shortstop has a shockingly bad .597 OPS and just eight home runs in 2023. Javy’s defense is the only thing keeping him from a negative WAR.
This series is going to be a step up in difficulty for Chicago from the last two. They are the more talented team for sure but they are going to need to play better than they did against Kansas City. A sloppy performance against one of the worst teams in the last five seasons can get you by, but it won’t work against a slightly below-average team like Detroit.
If the North Siders can put up some runs in this series, it’s going to be hard for the anemic Tigers lineup to keep pace. The Cubs are 8-0 in August when they score at least five runs, so here’s hoping they can turn it back on and keep moving up in the standings.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, August 21 at 5:40pm CT on Marquee.
- Tuesday, August 22 at 5:40pm CT on Marquee.
- Wednesday, August 23 at 12:10pm CT on MLB Network (out of market only) and Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Smyly returns to the rotation with Marcus Stroman out indefinitely with a rib cartilage fracture.
- Seiya Suzuki had four hits against the Royals including a home run.
- Miguel Cabrera is wrapping up the final year of his Hall of Fame career with a .658 OPS and two home runs.
- Nico Hoerner reached base six times against Kansas City.