The Chicago Cubs have played 30 games, but have yet to win three in a row.
That could change on Friday when the Cubs host Cincinnati at 11:20 a.m. (PT) in the opener of a three-game series.
The 14-16 Cubs are riding a modest two-game winning streak yet are in position to make a move in the National League Central Division with nine consecutive games at Wrigley Field.
Often playing in cold weather, the Cubs are just 6-8 at Wrigley. Chicago, though, went 4-2 during its last six games during their West Coast trip to Arizona and Los Angeles.
Good weather is expected for Friday’s matchup with temperatures in the low 60s only a four percent chance of rain and winds blowing in around 12 mph.
Matt Garza is slated to take the mound for Chicago after finally notching his first victory as a Cub. Garza held the Diamondbacks to three runs on six hits in eight innings this past Saturday, winning 5-3 as a 110 road ‘dog against Ian Kennedy.
The combined eight runs dipped ‘under’ the 8 ½-run total. This was the deepest Garza has pitched this season, but he threw just 104 pitches, his second-lowest pitch count of the year.
The 27-year-old right-hander is 1-3 with a 3.96 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Garza, though, finished April with a club-record 51 strikeouts. That currently ranks him tied for third with Detroit’s Justin Verlander for most strikeouts in the major leagues.
The Reds had lost nine of their last 13 when facing a right-hander through this past Wednesday.
Once again the Cubs are having trouble manufacturing runs. Despite ranking third in the league in batting at .271 and with Alfonso Soriano having the most homers in the majors with 11, the Cubs rate 21st in runs averaging four per game.
The ‘under’ has cashed in Chicago’s past six games. The Cubs haven’t broken the five-run barrier during their last 10 games.
Chicago could exceed its season-average facing Edinson Volquez. The 27-year-old right-hander is 2-1, but has a 5.67 ERA and 1.56 WHIP.
Volquez has struggled to find his command after undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago and being suspended for 50 games last year for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Control has been a big issu with Volquez walking 24 batters in 33 1/3 innings – an average of 6.48 walks per nine innings – and has not gone beyond the sixth inning. He has yet to regain his pre-surgery velocity when he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA in 2008 with 206 strikeouts in 196 innings.
Volquez didn’t get a decision in his last outing, a 4-3 home victory versus Florida as a 110 underdog against Josh Johnson. He pitched just five innings and allowed only one run and two hits. However, he walked five and threw 102 pitches. The combined seven runs pushed on the seven-run total.
Lifetime against the Cubs, Volquez is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA in 18 2/3 innings and 19 strikeouts.
After opening the season with five straight victories, the Reds have lost 15 of their last 25 through this past Wednesday.
Reigning NL Most Valuable Player Joey Votto hasn’t let up from last year. He’s reached safely in every one of the Reds’ first 30 games. Votto currently ranks sixth in the NL in batting at .358.
The Reds rate in the top five in runs, homers and stolen bases.
Cincinnati went 12-4 against the Cubs last year on its way to capturing the NL Central Division.
The Reds captured six of seven at Wrigley Field. This is the first meeting this season between the two teams.