Series Preview, TV info, and Prediction: Cubs vs. Indians
|Monday, June 21, 2021, 1:00 PM- -|
The first part of this five-game homestand didn't go as planned, with the Marlins taking two of three from the Cubs. Not only did they lose the series, but they were blown out in both losses as the Marlins, for whatever reason, has this team's number.
However, the Cubs still have a chance to end the homestand on a positive note as they can still finish with a winning homestand with a sweep over the Indians. This will be the second time these teams will see each other this season, and it will be the final meeting between the sides this season.
Here are the pitching matchups and a prediction for this series.
Monday, June 21, 7:05 PM CDT on Marquee Sports Network: (Adam Civale 10-2 3.48 ERA 71K vs. Adbert Alzolay 4-5 4.06 ERA 62K)
While this may not be the Indians of the 2016 World Series, this is still a great team with tons of pitching. That is one thing they have done well since 2016 as they have continued to churn out strong starters to keep the franchise competitive.
From Zach Plesac to Mike Clevinger, to Shane Bieber, the Indians have had no trouble developing front-line starters, which has been the case this season. While the Cubs are fortunate enough to miss Bieber this series, they will see Civale, who has emerged as a front-line starter this season. At 10-2, Civale ranks in the top five in the American League in wins and is currently filling the team's ace spot while Bieber recovers from a shoulder injury.
Civale may not have a ton of experience against this Chicago team, but this will be his second career appearance against the Cubs. Civale looked like an ace in his first start as he allowed just two runs over six innings of work. Guys like Javy Baez, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward, and Anthony Rizzo have had luck against him while the rest of the lineup hasn't seen him.
Chicago's rotation will be getting a huge lift in this series as Alzolay will return after missing two starts with a blister issue. The former top 5 prospect has continued to improve as the season has gone on, showing the Cubs, he has the stuff to be a front-line starter in the future. He is coming off one of his worst starts of the season as a blister hampered some of his pitches.
Before that, Alzolay was incredible in his seven starts, posting a 2.95 ERA across 39 2/3 innings while walking just six and striking out 41. Hopefully, the blister issue is behind him, and he can get back to using that slider which has been his go-to pitch this season. This will be Alzolay's second look at the Indians this season. In his first start, the righty was matched up against Bieber and went six innings allowing three runs on five hits to go with six strikeouts. He took the loss in that start.
Tuesday, June 22, 7:10 PM CDT on Marquee Sports Network: (Eli Morgan 0-1 12.79 ERA 6K vs. Kyle Hendricks 9-4 4.13 ERA 65K)
Normally, Tuesday's game would be occupied by Bieber, but with him on the IL Morgan will take the ball. The right-hander will be making his third career start for the Indians and second this season since getting the call up from Columbus.
In his first start, Morgan allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings of work and struck out five hitters in a losing effort. While most of the Cubs lineup has no experience against him, they do have somewhat of an advantage with Patrick Wisdom, Sergio Alcantara, and Jose Lobaton as players who have seen him in AAA this season. Rafael Ortega also has experience, so they may look to get some of them at-bats in this game.
Opposing him will be one of the hottest pitchers in the game in Hendricks. Fresh off another fine outing in which he tossed six shutout innings against the Mets, Hendricks has run his record to 9-4 while also winning seven straight starts. During that time, Hendricks has posted a 2.54 ERA while walking seven hitters compared to 35 strikeouts in 46 innings of work.
Hendricks continues to struggle with the home run ball as he has allowed a major league-worst 19 home runs. Another shocking statistic has been his struggles at home this season, where he has posted a 4.60 ERA thus far. Compare that to his career mark of 2.56 ERA at home, and something has to give eventually. Maybe this is the game he avoids the long-ball and gets back to the old Hendricks at home.
Prediction: FLY THE W
Interleague series are always tough to gauge, given how infrequent the teams see each other. For the Cubs, they have posted one of the best interleague marks since 2015, and they will look to continue that again. Chicago has the advantage by missing Plesac and Bieber, but they still need to go through Civale.
This has the making of being a low-scoring series yet again, and that is something the Cubs bullpen has become used to. I am going on a limb here to say the Cubs sweep the Indians in this series and finish the homestand with a 3-2 mark.