All the positive vibes and energy the Cubs (37-42) took with them to London last week are seemingly gone as a four-game losing streak has soured the mood on the North Side. The defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies swept Chicago in three contests at Wrigley Field and they had just 12 hours to prepare for their next opponent, the Guardians, who are in for a series beginning Friday afternoon.
Cleveland (39-41) is tied for first in the mediocre American League Central despite having a losing record. Their strong suit is pitching, in particular a bullpen that is second-best in MLB with a 2.96 ERA. Emmanuel Clase has 24 saves already in 2023 and Cy Young winner Shane Bieber is still the ace of the starting rotation, although Chicago won’t see him this weekend.
The Guardians’ offensive production is very bad with a .690 team OPS, a mark that sits bottom five in baseball. Terry Francona‘s squad has a shocking lack of power with only 53 homers so far through 80 games, 11 fewer than the second-worst Washington Nationals.
The biggest threat in Cleveland’s lineup is definitely third baseman José Ramirez, as the switch-hitting slugger leads the team in OPS and home runs. Big first baseman Josh Naylor is the only other extra-base threat in the order.
The Cubs can’t afford to extend their current losing streak if they want to have any chance for a playoff run. The final 10 games before the All-Star break are critical, especially the four-game series in Milwaukee next week, so this is make or break for David Ross and company.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, June 30 at 1:20pm CT on MLB Network (out of market only) and Marquee.
- Saturday, July 1 at 6:15pm CT on FOX.
- Sunday, July 2 at 1:20pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Stroman is scheduled to pitch on Saturday after leaving his last start with a blister on his right middle finger.
- Mike Tauchman has cooled off going just 2-for-17 with seven strikeouts in his last five games.
- Taillon had another rough outing in his last start and the Cubs are 2-11 when he pitches.
- Jared Young has a couple of extra-base hits in his first two games of the season.