Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago Cubs Series Preview

Boston vs. Chicago

The Boston Red Sox kick off the second half of the season by heading to Chicago for a three-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Red Sox went into the break as one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won eight of their last nine and five straight games. During the Red Sox nine-game stretch, they have outscored their opponents 54-33. The Cubs went into the break, winning four of their last six and taking a series win over the Yankees.

Boston Red Sox (48-43) vs. Chicago Cubs (42-47)

Game 1:

Date: Friday, July 14
Time: 8:05 PM
Broadcast: NESN

Game 2:

Date: Saturday, July 15
Time: 2:20 PM
Broadcast: NESN

Game 3:

Date: Sunday, July 16
Time: 2:20 PM
Broadcast: NESN

Projected Starting Pitchers:

Game 1: Brayan Bello (6-5, 3.04 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (3-3, 3.04 ERA)

Boston Red Sox Brayan Bello
Image courtesy of Boston.com

Brayan Bello starts the series and is making his 15th start of the season for the Red Sox. Bello has been one of the Red Sox best pitchers in the first half of the season; he comes into this one with a 3.77 FIP, a 1.18 WHIP, a 2.5 Bb/9, and a 7.9 K/9. Bello’s last start came against the Rangers, in which he went seven innings, giving up just two runs on eight hits and striking out three. Bello has never faced the Cubs in his career. Kyle Hendricks will oppose Bello and has only made one start in his career against the Red Sox. In that one start against the Red Sox, Hendricks went six innings, giving up two runs on three hits; he walked three and struck out six.

Game 2: James Paxton (5-1, 2.73 ERA) vs. Marcus Stroman (9-6, 2.96 ERA)

James Paxton
Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

James Paxton gets the middle game for the Red Sox and is making his 11th start of the season. Paxton has been the other top pitcher for the Red Sox this season; he last started against the Oakland A’s after coming off the paternity list; in that start against the A’s, he went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits. This season Paxton posts a 3.66 FIP, a 0.98 WHIP, a 2.3 BB/9, and a 10.3 K/9. Paxton has never faced the Cubs in his career. Marcus Stroman will take the ball for the Cubs and oppose Paxton; this season, Stroman has pitched great and is a National League Cy Young candidate. In his career against the Red Sox, Stroman has made 15 starts going 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.

Game 3: Kutter Crawford (3-4, 4.11 ERA) vs. Justin Steele (9-2, 2.56 ERA)

Kutter Crawford
DARREN HARTWELL

Kutter Crawford gets the ball in the finale and is making his 18th appearance and tenth start of the season. His last start came on July 6 against the Rangers, in which he went four innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. Crawford comes into this one with a 4.19 FIP, a 1.15 WHIP, a 1.9 BB/9, and an 8.5 K/9. Justin Steele will take the ball for the Cubs and has been one of their best pitchers; his last start came against the Brewers, in which he went six innings giving up three runs on nine hits; he also pitched an inning in the All-Star game, giving up just one hit and striking out one. Steele has never faced the Red Sox in his career.

Boston Red Sox Player to Watch

Jarren Duran (.320/5/33)

Boston Red Sox Jarren Duran
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Duran has had a great season for the Red Sox and has turned things around. In 70 games this season, he has a slash line of .320/.367/.519 and an OPS of .886 with 17 stolen bases. In his last five games he’s played in, he is 7-15 with six runs scored, a double, a triple, a home run, and four RBI. Duran should be in the lineup for the first two games, but in the finale, with Steele being a lefty, Alex Cora may decide to sit him for the matchup. Duran has never faced the Cubs in his career.

Series Prediction:

This series is tough; you will see the Red Sox best healthy pitchers while the Cubs come out with their three best to start the second half. The Cubs are a good team despite what their record says and where they sit in the standings in the National League Central. The Red Sox got hot right before the break; hopefully, the rest didn’t cool them off; this will be a series that the bats need to stay hot. I could see the Red Sox taking two out of three in this series, with the loss being that final game, unless the Red Sox can find a way to get to Steele early.

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