Game Seventy-Eight: Cubs (51-26) vs. Mets (40-37)
- Game Time – 6:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network – Radio: WSCR 670 The Score, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 89, 844
- Location – Citi Field, New York
John Lackey, RHP (7-4, 3.29/1.03/3.41) vs. Steven Matz, LHP (7-3, 3.29/1.18/2.94)
The Cubs are in the Big Apple for the next four days on the final leg of the three-city, 11-game road trip … It’s round one of the season series between the Cubs and Mets.
The Cubs have arrived in New York coming off a three-game sweep in Cincinnati. The Cubs are 4-3 in the first seven games of this journey. The Mets are struggling right now, dealing with a lot of drama and injuries and Terry Collins’ team was just swept by the Nationals.
Pre-season predictions had the Cubs and Mets meeting in October again. While the Cubs have not let the pressure keep them from winning games, the Mets begin play tonight behind the Nationals and Marlins in the NL East, six games out of first place.
The National media is pointing to this series as being a test for the Cubs young hitters because they were ‘dominated’ last fall in the NLCS. The National media has not brought up one time that everything went the Mets way, every single line drive found a glove. Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson looked like Gold Glove winners and made plays they could not again if their baseball salaries depended on it.
This is not a test for anything. This is a series the weekend before the 4th of July. The Mets are having a horrible season. The Mets’ rotation has underperformed and is dealing with injuries. Noah Syndergaard did not want his bone spurs made public. Steven Matz is trying to manage his pain enough just to take the hill every five days. Just as the season series sweep (Cubs won all seven games) last year had zero impact in October (Cubs lost the four games of the NLCS), if the two teams meet again in the tournament these four games and the three at Wrigley (July 18-20) will have had no influence on a series that ends with one team going home for a long winter.
Don’t read too much into this series but look at these next four days as games the Cubs plan to and will play to win in order to maintain their grasp on the NL Central.
And with all of that said, when the Cubs beat the Mets this weekend just think how happy Ron Santo would be at that moment in time.
After tonight’s matchup of John Lackey and lefty Steven Matz, Jason Hammel is scheduled to take on Jacob deGrom on Friday night (6:10pm CDT). Jake Arrieta gets the ball on Saturday night (6:15pm CDT) and will face Bartolo Colon. The series concludes Sunday afternoon (12:10pm CDT) with Jon Lester against Noah Syndergaard.
Willson Contreras is supposed to be behind the plate. Javier Baez should be at third base with Kris Bryant in left field.
Tonight all starts with John Lackey …
John Lackey is coming off his worst start of the season, which is good news for the Cubs. That game in Miami five days ago is just a memory and one Lackey will look to move on from tonight. Lackey should be in full ‘Country Hardball’ mode. And if he is, the Cubs will be put in a very good position to beat the Mets.
John Lackey is 2-2 in his last five starts with a 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. And outside of Wrigley this season, Lackey is 3-2 in eight starts with a 4.59 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Lackey has been really good in five of those eight games.
In four career starts against the Mets, Lackey is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. And at Citi Field, Lackey is 1-0 in one start with a 1.29 ERA and 0.43 WHIP (one run, three hits, zero walks, six strikeouts, seven innings). Lackey faced the Metropolitans two times a year ago and was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Mets Career Numbers against John Lackey
- Curtis Granderson: 10-for-41 with two doubles, two triples, one home run and five walks
- Asdrubal Cabrera: 7-for-31 with two doubles, one home run and one walk
- James Loney: 8-for-29 with three doubles and one home run
- Kelly Johnson: 6-for-26 with two doubles
- Neil Walker: 3-for-11
- Yoenis Cespedes: 1-for-4 with one double and one walk
- Wilmer Flores: 0-for-5
- Alejandro De Aza: 1-for-2 with one double
Steven Matz is dealing with bone spurs in his left elbow that are reportedly causing him a lot of pain. The Mets pushed him back a day to help with the injury and to face the Cubs. When he’s been healthy, Matz has been very good this season.
One comp on Matz that is making the rounds is Rich Harden. When the former Cubs’ right-hander was healthy and able to pitch he could shut a big league team down. The problem with Harden was he spent too much time hurt and on the disabled list.
The Braves rocked Matz in his last start. Matz was charged with six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Matz did not walk or strikeout a batter.
After posting a 4-0 record in five starts in May with a 1.31 ERA and 0.73 WHIP, Matz is 0-2 in his last four starts with a 5.91 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Matz has given up 15 runs, 14 earned, on 20 hits with four walks and 20 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings.
At Citi Field this season, Matz is 3-1 in six starts with a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.
The Cubs get their first look at Steven Matz in a regular season game tonight. Matz set the tone in game four of the NLCS last season. Matz held the Cubs to one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings.
The Cubs also saw Matz in the spring. Matz started the second game of the exhibition series the two teams played in Las Vegas (Big League Weekend at Cashman Field) at the end of Spring Training. Matz dominated the Cubs in the practice game.
Cubs Career Numbers against Steven Matz
- Ben Zobrist: 1-for-3 with one double
- Javier Baez: 0-for-2
- Kris Bryant: 0-for-1 with one walk
- Anthony Rizzo: 1-for-2
- David Ross: 0-for-1 with one walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …