Monday, September 25, 2023
5-Hour Energy

MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs (72-63) at Cincinnati Reds (70-67)


Cubs vs. Reds
The Cubs and Reds play four games in three days this weekend to wrap up the 13-game season set, spanning four series … the teams played a weather-shortened two-game set in Cincinnati, April 3-4, splitting the series then the Reds swept a three-game set at Wrigley Field May 26-28, before the Cubs took three of four in Chicago July 31-Aug. 3 … Chicago last season went 11-8 vs. the Reds, its first season series victory over Cincinnati since going 11-8 in 2018.

WEEKEND GETAWAY: The Chicago Cubs today play the third of four games against the Reds this weekend … the teams yesterday split the doubleheader with the Cubs making game one, 6-2, and dropping the second, 3-2 … Jordan Wicks earned his second win in his second career outing in game one, allowing one run on five hits, three walks and three strikeouts in 5.0 innings … in game two, Hayden Wesneski threw 3.1 hitless innings of relief, walking one and striking out six batters, the first time in his career throwing at least 3.0 innings without allowing a hit … Cody Bellinger homered in both games, the fifth time this season he has gone deep in back-to-back games. © Chicago is 11-1-1 in its last 13 series dating to July 17. The Cubs are 16-9 in their last 25 games and 30-13 in their last 43 games since July 18 … following play on July 20, the Cubs sat 7.0-games out of a wild-card spot and 8.5-games back of the division lead … the club enters today in the second wild card spot (2.0-games ahead of San Francisco and Arizona) and 3.5-games back of division-leading Milwaukee. The Cubs are in a stretch of 11 games (6-3) against division rivals that started on Aug. 24 at Pittsburgh (3-1), included three games at home against the Brewers (2-1) and concludes this weekend with four games at Cincinnati … Chicago is 27-17 against the N.L. Central this season.

BRING THEM AROUND, BELLI: Cody Bellinger has driven in 22 runs in his last 14 games dating to August 19, with 35 RBI since August 1 (29 games) and 59 RBI since July (55 games) … this is the first time in his career he has tallied 59 RBI in a 55- game span … he is the first Cub to acheive the feat since Sammy Sosa did so August 3-October 7, 2001 (61 RBI in 55 games) and just the second player in the majors this season to do so (also Matt Olson). His 59 RBI since July 1 lead the majors (Kyle Tucker is second with 49). His 81 RBI are the most of his career through the first 104 games of each season (he had 80 RBI through 104 games in 2019). This season, Bellinger’s .320 average is fifth in the majors, his .915 OPS ranks sixth and his .549 slugging percentage ranks seventh. Bellinger and Ronald Acuña Jr. are the only major leaguers to have at least a .320 average, 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases this season.

THE WATER IS RISING: Following the victory in game one yesterday, Chicago had a high-water mark of 10-games (72-62) … this marked the first time in Cubs franchise history that a team that was at least 10-games below .500 (26-36 following the game June 8) recovered to go at least 10-games above .500 in the same season. The closest a Cubs team had been to achieving this previously was in 1968 when the team was 10-under as late as July 5 (35-45) and peaked at 9-over August 13 of that season (64-55).

STINGY RELIEF: Chicago’s bullpen last night allowed it’s first home run in 11 games dating to August 16 … since then, the Cubs have the only ‘pen to have given up just one homer and their .190 opponent average is third-lowest in the majors … Cubs relievers have allowed 50 home runs this season, tied for fifth-fewest in the majors and second-fewest in the Senior Circuit (St. Louis and Philadelphia lead with 49 allowed).

IT HAPP-ENS IN CINCINNATI: Ian Happ, who attended the University of Cincinnati, is hitting .327 (52-for-159) with 17 home runs, 40 RBI, a .431 OBP, .742 slugging percentage and 1.173 OPS … his OPS at Great American Ball Park is his highest at any major league stadium and his 17 home runs are his most in any ballpark away from Wrigley Field … he has reached base safely in 36 of his 47 games at GABP with hits in 33 of them. Among active visiting players at GABP (min 15 games), his slugging percentage and OPS rank second, his OBP ranks third, 17 home runs and 31 extra-base hits both rank fourth and his .327 average is seventh-highest.

ONE OR TWO WILL DO: The Cubs are 19-17 (.528) in one-run games this season … after starting the season 2-10 in one-run games since May 28, Chicago is 17-7 in those games since May 29 … the Cubs .708 winning percentage in one-run games since May 29 leads the majors and their 17 wins are third behind the Reds (21) and Brewers (19). 13 of their last 16 wins since August 3 have been by two or fewer runs … the club is 28-30 in games decided by two or fewer runs this season. Chicago’s 19 one- and two-run games since August 1 are second-most in the majors (Seattle has the most with 20) and its 13 wins are tied with Seattle for the most in that span.

MONTHLY MATTERS: Chicago went 18-9 in August after finishing 15-11 in July, 14-11 in June, 10-18 in May and opening the year with a 14-13 record March/April … below is a look at the numbers by month. The last time the Cubs had at least 18 wins in a month was May 2021 (19-8), which was also the last time the team was at least nine games over .500 in a month … Chicago previously reached 18 wins in August in 2018 (18-10). In August, José Cuas led Cubs pitchers (min. 5 G) in ERA (0.75, 1 ER/12.0 IP) and Steele led the club in wins (4) and innings pitched (34.1) … Cody Bellinger paced Chicago in batting average (.324) and RBI (31) while Nico Hoerner was first in OBP (.372) and Seiya Suzuki led in OPS (1.006) since August 1.

Starting Pitcher – #72 RHP Javier Assad (3-2, 2.96)
Last Time Out
Javier improved to 3-2 on the season with a career-high tying 7.0 innings on one-run ball in a 10-1 win at the Pirates Aug. 27 … allowed a first-inning run on a leadoff double followed by two groundouts … all told, the Pirates were 0-for-5 with RISP against Assad … his seven strikeouts marked a career high.

Date Opp. Result IP H R ER BB SO PC-S Left
8/27 @PIT W, 10-1 7.0 3 1 1 2 7 92-53 6-1
2023 Splits and Season Notes
Home 0-2 3.55 15 3 45.2 41 19 18 22 42
Road 3-0 2.16 9 3 33.1 22 8 8 10 18
AVG vs. LHB: .240 (31-for-129) / AVG vs. RHB: .204 (32-for-157)

Javier will make his 25th appearance of the season (seventh start) tonight … has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in 29.0 IP (2.48 ERA) in five starts since being added to the rotation Aug. 5 … has pitched to a 1.58 ERA (9 ER/51.1 IP) in 14 outings (five starts) since June 27 … is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA (22 ER/68.2 IP) in 14 career starts, compared to 1-2 with a 3.19 ERA (17 ER/48.0 IP) in 19 career relief appearances. Has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine-straight starts dating to Sept. 29, 2022. Has tossed a career-high 7.0 innings in two of his last four starts: Aug. 11 in Toronto and Aug. 27 in Pittsburgh. From June 27-August 4, posted a 0.40 ERA (1 ER/22.1 IP) in nine relief outings, the second-lowest ERA among major league relievers during that span (min. 15.0 IP) … held opponents scoreless in eight of the nine outings. Has made four starts over three stints with Triple-A Iowa in 2023 (April 10-20, April 21-May 3, May 12-24), going 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA (6 ER/14.2 IP). Made his first career Opening Day roster, appearing in two games in relief (6 ER/4.1 IP) … was optioned to Iowa April 10. Pitched in three games (one start) in spring training, posting a 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP). Pitched for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings with six strikeouts in two relief appearances.



  • Is Game 3 (1-1) of a 4-game series vs David Ross’ Cubs and Game 3 (1-1) of a 10-game homestand that includes upcoming visits by the Mariners (3g) and Cardinals (3g). The Redlegs are coming off a 5-5 road trip (3-0 at LAA, 1-3 at AZ, 1-2 at SF).


  • The Reds lead this season’s series, 6-5 (2-2 at Cin, 4-3 at Chc). The Reds’ 3-game sweep from 5/26-5/28 was their first series sweep of the Cubs since 7/2-7/4, 2021 (3g at Cin) and their first series sweep at Wrigley Field since 8/12-8/14, 2013 (3g).


  • The Reds have 9 rookies on today’s roster: IF Elly De La Cruz, IF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, IF Noelvi Marte, IF/OF Spencer Steer, LHP Andrew Abbott, RHP Daniel Duarte, RHP Lyon Richardson, RHP Carson Spiers and LHP Brandon Williamson. As recently as Sunday, the Reds had 11 rookies on the roster. Had 12 rookies on the 27-player roster for the 8/23 doubleheader at LAA. 14 Reds players have made their Major League debuts this season, the most of any team in the majors: RHP Casey Legumina, RHP Levi Stoudt, IF Matt McLain, LHP Brandon Williamson, RHP Eduardo Salazar, OF TJ Hopkins, LHP Andrew Abbott, IF Elly De La Cruz, RHP Ricky Karcher, RHP Randy Wynne, RHP Jake Wong, IF Christian Encarnacion-Strand, RHP Lyon Richardson and IF Noelvi Marte. When he pitches, RHP Carson Spiers will make his Major League debut. 21 rookies have played in at least 1 game for the Reds, the most of any team in the Major Leagues and fifth-most in club history (26 in 1909, 25 in 2016, 24 in 1914 & 2017, 23 in 2022, 21 in 2012)…courtesy @EliasSports. The Reds have used 59 players overall…RHP Michael Mariot (7/8) and IF/
    OF Alejo Lopez (8/29-8/30) were on the roster briefly, but neither appeared in a game…in 2022, the Reds used a club record 66 players.


  • The Reds are the first team in Major League history with 3 rookies, in a single season, with at least 10 HR & 10 stolen bases each (Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Spencer Steer). For the first time since 1890, when Cincinnati joined the National League, 3 Reds rookies have produced at least 10 HR…courtesy @ EliasSports. Reds rookies have combined for 50 HR (Spencer Steer 18, Matt McLain 16, Elly De La Cruz 11, Christian Encarnacion-Strand 5)…the franchise record for home runs in a season by rookies is 54 in 2008 (Joey Votto 24, Jay Bruce 21, Chris Dickerson 6, Ryan Hanigan 2, Paul Janish 1). On 8/22 at LAA, in his 64th career game, Elly De La Cruz recorded his 20th stolen base to become the fastest player since 1900 to accumulate at least 10 HR and at least 20 steals…Barry Bonds did it in his 65th career appearance, just ahead of Reds rookies Chris Sabo (66g) and Gary Redus (67g)…courtesy @EliasSports. Elly De La Cruz is the first Major League player since RBI became a statistic in 1920 to produce in his first 60 career apps at least 60 hits (64), 10 HR (10), 25 RBI (26) and 15 stolen bases (19). Elly De La Cruz and Spencer Steer on 7/4 at Wsh became the first set of rookie teammates in Major League history to finish in the same game 4-for-4 with at least 1 RBI (since RBI became an official statistic in 1920)… courtesy @EliasSports. IF Matt McLain (5/22-5/28) and IF Elly De La Cruz (6/19-6/25) each earned National League Player of the Week awards, McLain in the second week of his career and De La Cruz in his third week.


  • The Reds are the first team in Major League history to move into first place alone in 9 games or fewer after falling 5 or more games under .500 while facing a deficit of at least 5 games…on 6/9 were 29-35 and trailed the first-place Pirates by 5.0 games…beginning 6/10 won 9 straight games to move into first place alone on 6/19. The Reds’ 12-game winning streak from 6/10-6/23 tied their modern club record (5/16-5/27, 1939 & 4/30-5/12, 1957). The Reds went 18-9 in June, their highest victory total in any month since June 2014 (18-10). From 6/14-7/8 Reds batters established a new franchise record for consecutive games with at least 1 home run (22g, 45hr), a streak snapped in the 1-0 loss at Mil in the final game heading into the All-Star Game break…the 1956 Reds held the team record by homering in 21 consecutive games.


  • The Reds lead the Major Leagues with 159 stolen bases (TB 2nd, 141), their highest total since 1999 (164sb)…in 2022, the Reds recorded 58 steals…are trying to lead the National League in stolen bases for the first time since 2015 (134sb). The Reds recorded 50 stolen bases in June, their highest steals total in a calendar month since September 1912 (53sb). 6 times this season recorded at least 5 stolen bases in a game (last, 8/16 vs Cle)…prior to this season, the Reds hadn’t recorded 5 stolen bases in a game since 4/10/17 at Pit. Their 9 stolen bases on 6/3 vs Mil (Jake Fraley 3, Spencer Steer 2, Jonathan India 2, Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild) was their highest single-game total since they swiped 9 bases on 5/30/1976 vs LAD. With Elvis Peguero pitching, Elly De La Cruz on 7/8 at Mil became only the fourth Reds batter ever to steal second, third and home in the same inning (Hans Lobert 9/27/1908, Dode Paskert 5/23/1910, Greasy Neale 8/15/1919)…became the first Major League batter to steal second, third and home in the same inning since Mia’s Jon Berti did it on 8/25/2020 at NYM…became the first Reds batter with a straight steal of home since Brandon Phillips did it on 7/10/2009 at NYM.

Tonight’s Pitcher – #41 Andrew Abbott, LHP

  • Tonight is making his 17th Major League appearance and start…will be his second appearance vs the Cubs. Since his debut on 6/5, ranks among the National League leaders in starts (T2nd), wins (T6th), ERA (9th), strikeouts (8th), batting average against (T11th, .227), innings pitched (13th) and WHIP (17th, 1.22). Has stopped losing streaks of 4, 2, 3 and 2 games…in 10 starts overall following losses is 6-3, 2.68 (57ip, 17er, .221baa). In his 4-3 win on 7/2 vs SD recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts, tied for the most by a Reds pitcher this season (Nick Lodolo, 4/8 at Phi). Began his career with 17.2 scoreless innings, a new club record since 1893, until Col’s Brenton Doyle hit a leadoff HR in Abbott’s fourth start…the previous team record was held by Wayne Simpson, who in 1970 began his Major League career with 15.0 scoreless innings…@EliasSports. Since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893, is the only Major League pitcher to begin his career with 3 consecutive scoreless starts of at least 5.0 innings…@EliasSports. Abbott’s 16.0-inning scoreless streak was snapped in the second inning of the 6-5 win on 7/31 at Cubs…when snapped was tied for the longest active streak in the Major Leagues

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