On Friday afternoon, the Cincinnati Reds (22-29) kicked off this weekend set with a resounding 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs (22-28). Dating back to last October, these teams have split wins in their last five meetings. Neither team has a winning record, but neither team is out of the NL Central race either. This series could prove important as each dugout pursues the top spot. The Friendly Confines known as Wrigley Field is hosting this three-game set, and this Saturday night game will be nationally televised. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. EDT in the North Side of Chicago.
Reds on the RoadEven after Friday's win, the Reds are only 8-15 in away contests this season. Getting to .500 on the road would work wonders for them as they fight for an open NL Central. Better pitching would help a lot too, although their home park doesn't do them any favors. Yesterday was a great start, as Cincinnati pitched 7.0 no-hit innings. Surprisingly it was their solid bullpen that's third in WAR that allowed the first hit. Hunter Greene dealt on Friday, and this time it's Brandon Williamson's turn. The Reds have won both of Williamson's starts this season, even if he hasn't pitched six full innings yet. He only has 10.0 big-league innings to his name, but it seems that Williamson's cutter will be the key to his success.
Untouchable pic.twitter.com/rAS0sV6fAY— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 26, 2023
Offensively, Cincinnati is 17th in runs per game, which is disappointing when factoring in Great American Ball Park. They're 28th in home runs and 24th in strikeout rate. The Reds have some good hitters, such as Jonathan India and Spencer Steer, but collectively the results aren't there. There may be a Joey Votto-sized hole in the lineup, but Cincinnati is testing bats for their future, which he probably won't be around for. Cincinnati's current group needs to figure things out.
Right Run Differential, Wrong RecordEven after a nine-run defeat, the Cubs have a +10 run differential. Yet, they sit well below .500 after 50 games. With Jameson Taillon on the mound, another loss is very possible. The Cubs have lost all seven of Taillon's starts this season. He's allowed at least three runs in six of his starts and hasn't lasted more than 5.0 innings yet. We've seen quality pitching out of Taillon as recently as last year in the Bronx. The move to Chicago hasn't produced anything close to that though, as he now has a 8.10 ERA and 1.725 WHIP. Chicago's weak bullpen (24th in ERA) is probably getting extensive work in this game.
The Cubs' offense has had a rough May, ranking 26th in runs per game, and Friday may have been rock-bottom. They mustered two hits, both in the eighth inning, and got shut out for the first time in 2023. Even with their recent struggles, the club has top-10 marks in home runs, stolen bases, batting average, slugging percentage, walk rate, and OBP. However, at their current rate, the Cubs aren't going to be a feared club at the plate.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Jameson Taillon hasn't been the starter for a Cubs win yet, and why should he be now? He's had one game all season in which he pitched effectively, and he doesn't provide length. The relievers behind him haven't been shutting anyone down. The Cubs' offense has cooled down as the weather has been heating up. Cincinnati isn't dominant by any stretch, but their young pitcher has been better than Taillon this season. The Reds have a much better bullpen, and their offense is having a better month. Sorry Chicago, but this probably won't be the one.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both starting pitchers should give up a few runs unless Chicago's offense no-shows again. Both bullpens should have long days because neither starter lasts long, so the vulnerable middle relief arms (especially Chicago's) will see the diamond. The weather should be fine, and Cincinnati's offense could potentially stay hot. Runs may be aplenty in this contest.