To say that this weekend is big is an understatement. The Reds are playing some of the best baseball they have played all season and now start a four game series with the division leading Chicago Cubs. Currently, the Reds are 7 games out of first place in the National League Central and 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot. If the Reds want to keep their 2019 post season hopes alive, they need to take 3 out of 4. A split does them no good in the division and most likely does nothing to help their Wild Card chances. A series loss pretty much eliminates them from a chance at the division and, depending on how things shake out through the rest of the league, will put a considerable dent in their overall post season hopes.
Thankfully, the Reds have played pretty well against the Cubs this season. They own a 7-5 record against them and have won 3 out of 4 series. Another good thing is that this game is not at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have been amazing in 2019. They own a 41-19 record inside the friendly confines while they have an abysmal 21-33 record on the road. Hopefully that trend continues this weekend.
There are some really good pitching match-ups this weekend, starting with tonight. The Reds will send lefty Alex Wood to face off against fellow southpaw Cole Hamels. Wood is finally with the Reds after dealing with back spasms for most of the season. He has made 2 starts and has done pretty well. Most recently, he allowed only 2 runs over 6.2 innings while walking 1 and striking out 5 against the Atlanta Braves last Friday. He obviously has not faced the Cubs this season, but has fared well against them in his career. He owns a 2.46 ERA in 34.2 innings in his career against the Cubs, so hopefully he continues to quiet their bats tonight.
His opponent, Cole Hamels, has been outstanding in 2019. He owns a 2.84 ERA over 18 starts this season and his ERA+ of 157 is set to be the highest of his career. He has only faced off against the Reds once this season, where he had to come out after the first inning due to an oblique injury in a Reds win.
It’s fun to finally write about meaningful August baseball isn’t it, Reds fans? Hopefully there’s more to come after this weekend. Go Reds!