The baseball season is in the home stretch with only two weeks of the regular season left. The Chicago Cubs are 28-20 with only 12 games to play. They currently hold a four-game lead in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals trying to make a late surge for the division crown.
This week is considered a light week for the Cubs as they have two off days on Monday and Thursday for the first time this season. However, they’ll need it because of their tough matchups against AL Central opponents. The Cubs open a two-game series on Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians. Then, the Minnesota Twins come to town for a pivotal three-game series.
Here is a look at how the Cubs have fared thus far against both clubs and an outlook into both series.
9/15-9/16- Cleveland Indians
This will mark the second series against the Indians this year. The last time they played was back in August where the Cubs swept the two-game series. In that series, it was all Cubs as they outscored the Indians 14-3.
However, that series was a month ago and now the Cubs are in a major hitting slump. Although the Cubs brought their bats out in their series finale in Milwaukee, scoring 12 runs, the Cubs’ bats have been very quiet before that. In the Cubs last 12 games, The Cubs have scored more than five runs only twice.
On the other side, the Indians are also in a significant slump as well. They have lost six straight games and are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. As a result of their skid, they find themselves losing the division lead and falling all the way down to third in the tough AL Central.
9/15 Tuesday Pitching Probables
Carlos Carrasco vs. Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Cubs in their first game of the series. Darvish looks to rebound from his last start in which he received his second loss of the season.
Has anyone been better than Darvish this season?
His 1.77 ERA ranks fourth-best in the majors. In his nine starts this season, Darvish has not given up more than three runs in any outing and has only given up 11 total runs. He has as many runs given up as walks allowed (11). He also gets it done by striking batters out. His 72 strikeouts rank seventh among starting pitchers.
As of now, Darvish is the favorite to win NL Cy Young with Jacob Degrom and Clayton Kershaw on his tail.
Carlos Carrasco will start for the Indians and has one of the most interesting stories in all of the majors. Last season, he had to sit out the season due to chronic myeloid leukemia that could have resulted in death.
One year later, Carrasco is back in the majors and starting for the Cleveland Indians. He faced the Cubs earlier this season and had a rough outing. Carrasco only pitched 4 ⅓ innings giving up three runs on four hits to go along with five walks. He would get the loss in that game.
Carrasco comes into this matchup with a lot of momentum. In his recent three starts, Carrasco has given up a total of three runs with 19 strikeouts. He’s grooving and won’t look to stop that against the slumping Cubs.
9/16 Wednesday Pitching Probables
Aaron Civale vs. Jon Lester
With the Cubs having an off day on Monday, Jon Lester gets his five-day rest and is ready to go on Wednesday.
Lester was his old self in his last outing. He pitched six strong innings giving up no runs on three hits and struck out a season-high eight batters. In his previous five starts before that game, Lester gave up a combined 24 runs on 40 hits.
It was nice to see Lester finally get back into his groove as October approaches.
The Cubs will face the young 25-year-old, Aaron Civale. His second season in the big leagues is very mediocre. Civale is 3-5 with a 3.88 ERA. Although he has had some rough outing, Civale has the potential to pitch some gems.
This season, Civale has had five games in which he went six-plus innings and allow three runs or less. In this matchup, Civale has the chance to have another solid outing, especially with the Cubs’ hitting slump.
9/18-9/20- Minnesota Twins
This will mark the first and only time these clubs will meet in 2020. Although they did play in an exhibition game before the season (Cubs won 4-3), that game didn’t matter much.
This game will feature two clubs fighting to stay atop their respective divisions. As of 9/13, the Cubs own a four-game lead in the NL Central while the Twins are one game behind the division-leading White Sox.
Although it is looking like both these clubs will make a playoff appearance due to the increase in playoff teams (from five to eight teams), the Twins and Cubs are both fighting for the division crown.
This series will be an interesting one to watch as it will feel like a must-win series for both teams.
Featured Image Courtesy of NBC Sports