the Chicago Cubs will close their three-game series on the road at the Great American Ballpark on Thursday night against the rival of the division Cincinnati Reds.
After a slow start to the season, the Cubs have won 20 of their last 25 games with a 2.5 game advantage over the Milwaukee Brewers in the central NL race. Meanwhile, the Reds are trying to extricate themselves from a considerable hole in mid-May. Cincinnati is the only team in the division to have an overall record under .500 at 18-24 and they are currently seated at 8.5 games of the Cubs with 120 games to play in the regular season schedule. Can Chicago continue its momentum with a win over the Reds on Thursday night?
Quintana increases quality for Cubs
Chicago should hand over the ball to left-handed Jose Quintana on the Great American Ballpark Hill, with the goal of extending his series of quality starts. To say that the 30-year-old plays well now would be a euphemism. Quintana started the sixth run or later and made three earned runs or fewer in six consecutive outings before Thursday's eighth outing of the year. He just gave up three runs on four hits in six and a half innings in his last game against the Milwaukee Brewers, but suffered a tough defeat in a 7-0 loss to the Cubs.
In the past three seasons, Quintana has a 3-2 record and a 3.69 ERA in six starts against Cincinnati, including a 1-1 record and a 3.00 ERA at the Great American Ballpark, two achievements from last season.
According to Baseball Savant, the Reds' current lineup beats .22 in 123 selections in front of the Cubs southpaw plateau. StatCast expects Reds' batters to have an expected batting average of 0.254 and an expected slugging percentage of 357 off Quintana before Thursday's game.
A recent report indicated that the Cubs were internally considering Russell at SS and that Baez was moving between 2B / SS / 3B. Maddon and Epstein both said today that there is no truth in this report. The plan for the future is to stay with Baez as SS everyday.
– Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 14, 2019
Reports have recently surfaced suggesting that members of the Cubs' organization privately wanted Russell to push Javy Baez back to second base and eventually resume the initial position. However, manager Joe Maddon and managing director Theo Epstein rejected ESPN's Karl Ravech report, alongside Baez, who arrested them until further notice.
Castillo in grass for the Reds
Rightist Luis Castillo is expected to play the Reds game as the third and final match of their battle against the Cubs, organized by NL Central, is approaching. Castillo is one of the best baseball players and has not been afraid to rely heavily on his previous outing. Castillo was in good form on his last start against the San Francisco Giants, allowing just two hits and eliminating 11 batters in six shutouts for his fourth straight decision. Castillo threw 103 shots in that match, using his change 40 times and causing 15 swings-and-misses and nine punches with. The 26-year-old has an overall record of 4-1 and an average Mauritanian score of 1.76. He kept opponent hitters at a derisory average of .168, while eliminating 70 batters in 56 innings. (11.18 K / 9). Perhaps the most surprising thing about Castillo is his ability to keep the ball in the park, as he reduced his house rate by almost half – from 17.9% in 2018 to 9, 7%.
The Reds' right-hander saw the Cubs several times in his first two seasons in the Big League. He has a 2-1 record and a life point average of 3.86 in six career starts against the Cubs. According to Baseball Savant, the Cubs' lineup beats .242 in 107 games in front of the Castillo plateau. StatCast projects Chicago strikes for an expected batting average of 0.230 and an expected slugging percentage of 0.282 off Castillo for Thursday's game.