Cincinnati (37-26) will try to get back on track after missing out on a chance to make up ground in the NL Central, falling 11-4 in 10 innings to first-place St. Louis on Sunday. The Reds remain 4 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central but are now stuck in a 2 way tie for second place with Pittsburgh. However, the Reds appear to have a good chance to regroup against Dusty Baker's former club. They've won 16 of 19 versus the Cubs (25-35), including seven of nine this season.
The Chicago Cubs (25-35) have lost 5 of 7 and are now just a game ahead of last place Milwaukee although they salvaged a win against the Pirates yesterday 4-1 at Wrigley. Scott Feldman (5-4 2.84) has yielded 9 ER in his last 17 IP going 1-1 with a no-decision after starting the season with an ERA as low as 1.97. He'll be facing a Redlegs lineup that may look dangerous on paper averaging nearly 4.6 runs per game. However they are hitting just .252 collectively and 4 players have accounted for 39 of their 62 total HR. Joey Votto (.325 10 29) is tops on the Reds in batting and shares the HR lead with Jay Bruce (.274 10 43) and journeyman Sin Soo Choo (.285 10 21). Most of Votto's longballs have been of the solo variety even out of the 3 spot where Choo hits ahead of him. Cincinnati should also feel fortunate that Brandon Phillips (.289 9 46) is back in the lineup after missing 4 games with an injured forearm. Todd Frazier (.246 6 34) has also provided a lift from the hot corner. However a glaring statistic the Reds need to cut down on are their strikeouts which have been rally killers with RISP all season long particularly from Bruce, Choo, Votto and Frazier.
The Redlegs counter with Homer Bailey (3-4 3.84) who has also been relatively inconsistent over the last month or so going 1-1 over his last 3 starts with a 6.75 ERA. Bailey held the Rockies to three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out seven in seven innings in a no-decision. Chicago has searched for consistent offense all season long despite having one of the lesser pitching staffs in baseball. Anthony Rizzo (.254 10 39) continues to impress in just his third season but can use a consistent streak to complement his productivity. Nate Schierholtz (.288 7 23) has carried the team well but has not been in the lineup as consistently compared to the earlier part of the season. Same holds true for Alfonso Soriano (.272 7 26), who has not lived up to his $18M per season worth while being the subject of off again on again trade rumors. Of course things could be worse for the team with the Cubs, who have the 4th worst record in the NL with the second oldest ballpark. There is some sporadic pop in the lineup with Dioner Navarro, Luis Valbuena and David DeJesus. Now it just may be a question off putting together some productive innings just to regain some respectability.
We get a bargain of a price this evening at the friendly confines of Wrigley during a rare early week start under the lights. Bailey and Feldman did get off to promising starts but since have fallen on more difficult times due to some shoddy defense and early collapses. Cincinnati is more than capable of turning things around in the power department as the weather heats up and are the Cubs who for what they are showing is somewhat more efficient than previous first thirds of the season. If they can take advantage of some opportunities from their supporting cast, there may not be as many reasons for fans to waste their hard earned money booing a franchise that is worlds due for a promising postseason. Best of luck however you play!