I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I think this is easily the Cubs biggest game of the year to date. For the most part, the team hasn’t been challenged. Entering the series against Pittsburgh, Chicago had yet to play a team previously who at that point had a winning record. After slamming the Pirates, who came into the series over .500 boasting a 6 game winning streak, and racking up 20 runs to Pittsburgh’s 5 in the process, the Cubs are looking pretty pretty good at the moment.
But enter Washington. These guys are playing out of there minds. Bryce Harper is playing MVP caliber baseball, Daniel Murphy, who was signed as a free agent this winter, is leading the majors with a .398 batting average. As for their pitching, Gio Gonzalez has looked phenomenal with an ERA of only 1.15, plus Stephen Strasburg and Tanner Roark have been steady.
Still, the Cubs pretty much one-up Washington in a few spots. Anthony Rizzo leads the majors in RBI, 1 ahead of Robinson Cano and Bryce Harper, Dexter Fowler leads in OBP at .470, and our pitchers are, well…they’re pretty damn good. Only Jordan Zimmerman’s .55 ERA is better than Jake Arrieta’s .84, and Gio Gonzalez’ 1.15 only slightly clips Jason Hammel’s 1.24. Arrieta was also first in the bigs to get to 6 wins, a category where he sits atop the league currently alongside southsider Chris Sale. And of course, there’s the no-no.
The most jaw-dropping figure though is run differential. The Cubs’ +93 run differential is historically good, and in the context of this season it’s just outright ridiculous. To put it in perspective, Washington is 2nd, at +50, followed by the Mets at +44.
Tonight could still be a weird one. The Cubs are sort of going with the B-squad tonight. Heyward is out of the lineup for the 4th time in a row, La Stella will play 3rd and bat 2nd, Tim Federowicz gets the start behind the plate, and Ryan Kallish makes his third appearance of the season playing left. Kyle Hendricks is on the hill with an ERA just barely under 4, and he’s up agains the red-hot Joe Ross. This won’t be our prettiest game, and its probably going to take some grit to come out with a W, but as always I like our chances.
My prediction: 5-3 Cubs.