RECORDS: Giants 63-62 Cubs 66-58
GAMETIMES: Tuesday/Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 1:20
TV: NBCSN Tuesday/Wednesday, WGN Thursday
MISSION REFUGEES: McCovey Chronicles
SERIES PREVIEW POSTS
Now that yet another nightmare road trip is over, the Cubs return to The Confines, where they’ll probably tease us by looking like an actual team worth giving a shit about fo six games. They’ll kick it off with three games against the walking anomaly that is the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have convinced themselves, or maybe they have to convince themselves because there’s nothing else, that they’re still in this wildcard race. And technically they are, thanks to the grade-school basketball nature of the National League. They sit 3.5 games out of the second spot (the right to get domed by Strasburg or Scherzer on an October night), but have the Brewers, Mets, and Phillies to leap to get there.
And they’re there even though this team doesn’t do anything particularly well. The offense is second-worst in the NL, the rotation has to cling by its nails to maintain a middling status, and the bullpen has to save everything (which it can’t do as well at the moment after shedding some pieces at the deadline). They got here thanks to a ridiculous month of July where just about everything went right that could, except for that part where it carried delusion with it and may have stunted the whole thing for the next couple seasons.
The Giants are 8-9 in August, which is what they are. This is still the same team that stood 22-34 on June 1st, which is probably closer to the truth of what they are than a 19-6 July. It got a few spasms of usefulness out of some true nobodies like Yaz’s descendant, or Stephen Vogt, or now Alex Dickerson, Donovan Solano, or Austin Slater. None of these guys or the regulars are under 26 and none suggest this is something they can carry out for longer than a sneeze on the great timeline. But it was enough for Fairhad Zaidi to pass on the deadline for the most part, or fall asleep during it, or something.
Perhaps it being Bruce Bochy‘s last season Jewish mother-guilted Zaidi into at least making a half-ass attempt to get to a playoff spot, instead of Bochy having to serve out his last two months in the dugout watching an old, stripped, directionless club have its organs harvested. Or maybe that in combination with the weekend-detention nature of the National League led the Giants to believe something truly strange could really happen.
Either way, for this weekend, this is a lineup the Cubs staff should really buzz through, especially at home. There’s literally no pop here, as no one on the Giants have over 20 homers in a year where your neighbor who never wears sleeves and is always testing his boat engine has 25. And the Cubs will catch a break in that Madison Bumgarner will not pitch in the series, so the Cubs get looks at Tyler Beede and Dereck Rodriguez and his misspelled first name. Of course, they didn’t really do much with Beede back in San Francisco last month, though that was when the Giants swallowed a box of horseshoes and were still passing them. Shark will clean this up on Thursday afternoon, and generally the Cubs have had their way with him since he skipped town.
For the Cubs, it’s been something of a roster-palooza. The cadre of returning relievers from the IL has seen now both Albert Almora Jr. and David Bote punted back to Iowa to search for hard contact. It probably means more Tony Kemp than anyone should ever be comfortable with. Also Addison Russell to make everyone uneasy, but at least he can catch the ball on occasion. Cole Hamels will attempt to find the mechanics he left on the IL with his oblique, and there really aren’t too many lineups you’d choose over this Giants one to try and figure shit out against. Darvish and Hendricks just need to keep their recent form rolling.
Again, with the Cardinals and Brewers playing each other, the Cubs can make up ground on someone by treating this Giants team like the floating garbage ship that it really is. They’ll also, at least looking like, dodge Scherzer and Corbin on the weekend, so let’s do some things here.