Game Thirty-One: Cubs (15-15) vs. Mets (20-11)
- Game Time – 7:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: WBBM 780, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 186, 844
- Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jon Lester (2-2, 4.04/1.32/2.75) vs. Jacob deGrom (3-3, 2.95/1.26/3.58)
Weather permitting … The Cubs return to Wrigley tonight and open a seven-game homestand with the first of four against the first place New York Mets. The homestand wraps up next Sunday with the last of three against the Pirates.
The left and center field bleachers open tonight and for several players on the roster it will be their first game at Wrigley with fans in the bleachers. The video board in right field has been installed and is operational for the first time.
Coming off what Jed Hoyer called a bad road trip, the Cubs will not get a break against the Mets for the next four days. While the Mets struggle defensively and will be without David Wright, the Cubs will have to deal with the Metropolitans’ pitching staff. The Mets enter play tonight with a team ERA just north of 1.50 (1.52) in May and the Cubs’ staff is quite a bit worse (5.36 ERA). The Cubs will have to capitalize on every scoring opportunity to win this series.
After tonight’s matchup of Jon Lester and Jacob deGrom, the Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the hill on Tuesday night. Terry Collins has RHP Noah Syndergaard scheduled to face Arrieta. So the Cubs will get a first row seat for Syndergaard’s big league debut, one of the pitchers the Cubs have been connected to in possible deals with the Mets for a shortstop.
Jason Hammel and Matt Harvey square off in game three on Wednesday night. Thursday’s finale is expected to feature southpaws Travis Wood and Jon Niese.
The Cubs were 5-2 in the seven games with Ron Santo’s favorite team last season, 3-0 at Wrigley Field, but this is a different Mets’ team, one that can pitch it and has learned how to win games.
Tonight all starts with Jon Lester …
A rather important homestand for the Cubs begins with Jon Lester on the hill. The road trip didn’t exactly go the way the Cubs would have liked and the team could really use a win tonight against the first place Mets. Lester has shown steady improvement each time out and is coming off his third straight quality start.
A defensive play by rookie second baseman Addison Russell seemingly pointed Lester in the right direction. Since Russell fielded a grounder in Cincinnati and threw out Billy Hamilton on a bang-bang play at first base, Jon Lester has pitched closer to expectations.
Lester was charged with four runs, one earned, on seven hits in seven innings against the Cardinals with two walks and six strikeouts. Over his last 20 innings, Lester has struck out 20 batters with four walks. And Lester is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in his previous two starts.
Jon Lester is 1-2 in four starts at Wrigley Field this year with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. Lester makes just the second start of his career tonight against the Metropolitans.
Lester was a rookie the last time he started a game against the Mets. Lester picked up the win on June 27, 2006 at Fenway after going five innings in a 9-4 Red Sox win. Lester surrendered two runs on four hits with five walks and five strikeouts in what was his fourth start in the majors.
Curtis Granderson (11-for-40 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and three walks), Michael Cuddyer (5-for-17 with two doubles) and John Mayberry Jr. (2-for-3) are the only three players on the Mets active roster that have faced Jon Lester in a regular season game.
Outside of one outing, Jacob deGrom has picked up where he left off last season. deGrom is coming off an excellent start against the Orioles. deGrom limited Baltimore to one run on six hits in seven innings with one walk and nine strikeouts. And in four of his six starts this season, deGrom has held teams to two runs or less.
The Cubs need to make deGrom work, but drawing those free passes might be a little difficult. Over his first six starts, deGrom has struck out 32 batters while issuing only eight walks. The Cubs will at least get a shot at deGrom on the road where in two starts this year he hasn’t had nearly the success he has at Citi Field. deGrom is 0-2 in two road starts with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.
Jacob deGrom will face the Cubs for the second time in his career tonight. deGrom received a no decision in the game he started at Wrigley last year (June 5) after he allowed four runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
Starlin Castro (0-for-2 with one walk), Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3) and Travis Wood (1-for-2 with one home run) are the only players on the Cubs active roster that have faced Jacob deGrom in a regular season game.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …