The Chicago Cubs will look to build on their lead in the National League Central when they host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night to open a three-game series.
Chicago (24-18) enters the game with a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, a 4 1/2-game edge over the third-place Milwaukee Brewers and a 5 1/2-game advantage over the fourth-place Reds. The division’s top two teams are guaranteed playoff berths.
Cincinnati (18-23) knows time is running out as it looks to surge in the standings and claim a spot in the postseason. The Reds were buyers at the trade deadline and remain steadfast they can make the playoffs.
Both teams are coming off underwhelming series. The Cubs dropped three of five games at home against the Cardinals, while the Reds split a four-game set against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
“Every team will go through a rough patch,” Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It’s just right now so much more magnified because it is 60 games and it is a sprint. Honestly, we’ve never been in this position before, none of us have ever been in this position before. We just know we have to go out and find ways to win. Every loss hurts, but we just have to go out and find ways to win. We’re still learning how to win.”
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward could return during the series after a scary weekend. He was removed from Sunday’s game against the Cardinals because of lightheadedness and shortness of breath, and he was taken to a nearby hospital for a battery of tests.
“I talked to him last night and this morning, seems to be feeling much better,” Cubs manager David Ross told reporters on Monday. “Lots of tests (were) run last night at the hospital. He’ll have the day off today. Got a couple more tests to go (Tuesday), but right now everything seems to be on the up and up. We’ll dot the I’s, cross the T’s further, per doc (Tuesday) morning, and just make sure everything’s fine. But right now, seems to be OK.”
Both teams will send capable right-handers to the mound on Tuesday.
Reds starter Tyler Mahle (1-1, 3.90 ERA) is expected to make his seventh appearance and sixth start of the season. He has struck out 35 in 30 innings while walking only 12.
Mahle, 25, is 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA in seven career starts against the Cubs. That includes two outings this year, during which he has gone 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings.
The Cubs will counter with Alec Mills (3-3, 5.50), who is set to make his eighth start. He is looking to bounce back after recording only one quality start in his past five outings.
During his career against the Reds, the 28-year-old is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in six appearances (four starts). Mills has walked eight and struck out 25 in 26 2/3 innings during those outings.
–Field Level Media