After a trade deadline where both of these teams seemingly waved the white flag, the Chicago Cubs (50-55) will take on the Washington Nationals (48-55) on Saturday. Washington will host this one at Nationals Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm ET.
Both of these teams were in a full-blown fire sale prior to the trade deadline. In fact, between the two of them, they traded 17 players, including Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, and others.
This will be the second of a three-game series. In the first game, both teams scrambled to find starters after the original starters (Trevor Williams and Jon Lester) were traded. The Nationals ended up winning the game 4-3. Pablo Espino picked up the win after allowing just a single run in 5.1 innings pitched.
In the loss, Jake Arrieta went just four innings and allowed two runs on six hits. Rafael Ortega and Sergio Alcantara each had two hits for the Cubs on offense.
The Cubs will send ace Kyle Hendricks to the mound in this one. On the season, he is 12-4 with a 3.85 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He has 91 strikeouts while walking just 25 in 121.2 innings thus far.
As of Friday evening, the Nationals have still not announced a starter for Saturday’s game.
By The Number
Offensively, the Nationals have been the stronger of the two teams. They rank 17th in the majors in scoring, averaging 4.38 runs per game. The Cubs rank 20th averaging 4.20 runs.
On the defensive side, it is the Cubs with a slight advantage. They rank 16th in scoring defense allowing opponents 4.51 runs per game. The Nationals rank 18th allowing 4.64 runs.
It is worth noting that these stats may need to be taken with a grain of salt, given the amount of turnover over the last few days.
Cubs Have To Find Way To Move On From Core
For the last several years, the Cubs have built their team around an amazing core of players, one that earned them a World Series title in 2015. This core that included Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo is no more.
In fact, the only main players from this core still intact include catcher Willson Contreras and outfielder Jayson Heyward. For Contreras, he is hitting .236/.345/.441 with 17 home runs, 37 runs batted in, and 43 runs scored this year.
Heyward has struggled this season to the tune of a .198/.272/.324 line with six home runs, 19 runs batted in, and 27 runs scored.
Soto Only Remaining Star Power
With Stephen Strasburg on the injured list and Max Scherzer and Trea Turner traded, Juan Soto is now the only true superstar left from a team that won the World Series just a couple of years ago.
This season, Soto is hitting .301/.425/.509 with 18 home runs, 58 runs batted in, and 67 runs scored. Soto has also had some luck against Kyle Hendricks as he is four for eight with a run batted in. Soto and Josh Bell, who has 17 home runs and 52 runs batted in, will be settled with being the catalyst for the Nationals’ offense.
Take The Cubs To Win
This series is simply fascinating due to how many new faces these two teams are now forced to play after their sell-offs this week.
With so much uncertainty in the lineups, there is a lot of appeal to taking Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs. He has been solid all season long and will be asked to lead the Cubs to victory in this one.
Especially with an uncertainty of who will pitch for the Nationals, take Hendricks and the Cubs to win this one.