A Crucial Home Stand at Wrigley Field
The Chicago Cubs are set to return home for their final home stand of 2019. They will play ten crucial games against NL Central opponents that could likely decide their playoff fate. First, the Cubs will square off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game set. Followed by the Cincinnati Reds, who will be in town for three more. Finally, to round out the home stand, Chicago will face the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
If Chicago struggles in the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field, look out for the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are currently tied with Chicago for the final Wild Card spot in the National League. Although they just lost NL MVP candidate Christian Yelich to a season-ending knee injury, they’re still rolling on a seven-game winning streak. Both teams trail St. Louis by four games for the division lead and sit a few games behind the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card race. Chicago should be hopeful heading into this ten-game stretch, as they have been great at home this season. They hold the second-best home record in the National League at 47-24.
What to Watch For
In Thursday’s much-needed win against the San Diego Padres, Anthony Rizzo started in the lead-off spot. When asked about the change, Rizzo said, “Put runs on the board early, that’s what we want to do…whatever it takes.” He is expected to bat first in the series opener against the Pirates on Friday. The change could really spark the Cubs struggling lineup, and it was a success in the past.
Speaking of lineup changes, new addition Nico Hoerner made quite a splash in his three-hit debut earlier this week. He was called up after superstar shortstop Javier Baez was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hairline fracture in his thumb. Hoerner has big shoes to fill and may continue to get critical playing time throughout the remainder of the season.
Each pitcher in the rotation will get two final regular season starts at Wrigley — barring any unforeseen circumstances. Chicago needs some quality starts out of the starting five, who have been quite inconsistent in 2019. The rotation is full of veterans and will likely treat these final starts like playoff games. Jon Lester will be on the mound in game one against Pittsburgh. He will be looking to rebound from his last start, where he gave up eight earned runs in a loss to Milwaukee.
Cubs fans have every reason to be worried throughout the next couple weeks. The Wild Card race will more than likely come down to the final games of the season. It’s also worth noting that Chicago will have two more road series after this final home stand. One of them being in Busch Stadium, where they will close out the season versus the Cardinals. There’s no doubt that the Cubs have the talent to be competing for the Central pennant in that final series. They are also capable of completely falling out of the race, based off their inconsistent play as of late. Either way, Cubs fans and MLB fans alike are in for a fantastic finish to an already historic 2019 regular season.
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