Cubs vs Rays Series Preview (April 18-20): TV and Game Info, Starting Pitchers, Insights
The Cubs (5-4) ended their first road trip of 2022 with a split against the Rockies in Denver. While it wasn’t fun to lose two games in which they collected 13 hits, it’s always an achievement to tie a series in the arcade park that is Coors Field. Chicago now returns home with a three-game set against the talented Rays.
Tampa (5-5) won the AL East in 2021 but could not go on a deep playoff run. Former top prospect Wander Franco is now a full-time starter at shortstop and is having a promising opening to the season. Randy Arozarena and Ji-Man Choi are two other big threats in the batting order.
The Rays, as always, have a bunch of hard-throwing pitchers without really well-defined roles. While they did add Corey Kluber, a more traditional starting pitcher, the Johnny Wholestaff approach Tampa uses has worked wonders in recent seasons and appears to be in effect once again.
Chicago has had some very good performances out of the gate, especially on offense. Seiya Suzuki has been incredible in his first MLB games. The overall hitting from the Cubs has been much more consistent than in recent years. The pitching has been a little spotty at times, but the starters have largely kept games in hand while the bullpen is once again doing its job despite featuring few name-brand relievers.
The next month for the Cubs looks incredibly difficult on paper as they face the Rays, the defending champion Braves, Brewers, Dodgers, White Sox, and Padres. Four games with the Pirates are the only respite against a non-playoff contender in the next three weeks.
The Cubs are going to learn a lot about themselves over this stretch. It may start to get interesting on the North Side if they can survive this rough patch mainly intact. And if they can’t, it will be clear that they’re still at least a year away from seriously contending.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, April 18 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
- Tuesday, April 19 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
- Wednesday, April 20 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee Sports Network
What to Watch For
- Hendricks struggled in his last start after a good effort in his season debut. The Cubs need him to have a good year. A solid start in this series will go a long way towards getting Hendricks back on track.
- Suzuki has reached base 20 times in his first nine games. He’s tearing it up as he continues to get accustomed to MLB pitching. It’s starting to seem like it’s MLB pitching that needs to get accustomed to him, however.
- Jonathan Villar has nine hits in 19 at-bats so far in 2022 after going off in Denver. He’s been getting playing time at second, third, and short this season, raking wherever he’s positioned.