Series Preview, TV info, and Prediction: Cubs vs. Mets


by - Senior Writer -
Jake Arrieta will get the start on Tuesday (Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports)
Jake Arrieta will get the start on Tuesday (Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports)

Despite the Cubs bats coming to life over the weekend against Atlanta, the Braves still took two of three from Chicago, sending them to 6-9 on the season. Next up on the homestand is the New York Mets, who have been a pleasant surprise this season.

Well, maybe not a surprise when you look at their roster. Not only do they have a top pitching trio in Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman, but their lineup has plenty of new faces that are going to lead to lots of runs and wins. Francisco Lindor has not only been added but signed a 10-year extension this winter as he is now the new face of the franchise.

Pair him with the polar bear Pete Alonso, all-star catcher James McCann, table-setter Jonathan Villar, and former Chicago Cub Albert Almora, and you have plenty of talent across the board. While the Cubs avoid two of the Mets top arms, they will not be fortunate enough to avoid the staff's ace on Thursday.

Here are the pitching matchups and predictions for this upcoming series:

Tuesday, April 20 6:40 CDT on ESPN and Marquee Sports Network: Taijuan Walker 0-0 2.61 ERA 12K vs. Jake Arrieta 2-1 3.18 ERA 14K

After years of battling arm injuries, Taijuan Walker is finally healthy and is giving the Mets plenty to like following his first two starts. Although he has yet to win a game, Walker has dialed his fastball up to 97 with regularity after sitting around 93 the last few years.

Walker is also regaining control on his off-speed stuff as he is now three years removed from the Tommy John surgery that triggered other arm injuries. A hot commodity this winter, the Cubs expressed some interest in Walker and were viewed as the favorites to land him at one point. While not much of this lineup has experience against him, Joc Pederson has seen him 14 times, hitting for a .429 average and connecting for one long ball.

Looking to bounce back from his loss last time out against Milwaukee will be Jake Arrieta. Fortunately, Arrieta will take the ball at Wrigley, where he has the lowest ERA of any place he has pitched. The Mets are all too familiar with Arrieta, having seen him a lot since the 2015 season and coming off a season in which Arrieta went 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA against this team.

Even though the 2020 season was a struggle for Arrieta, it wasn't a struggle against this Mets team as he struck out 11 and walked two in his 12 1/3 innings of work. He is hoping that trend of successful starts continues tonight on a mound where great starts are common.

Wednesday, April 21, 6:40 PM CDT on Marquee Sports Network: David Peterson 1-1 6.30 ERA 15K vs. Zach Davies 1-2 10.32 ERA 8K

Wednesday will feature a matchup of two struggling arms with Peterson taking on Davies. For the Southpaw Peterson, he is coming off a great start in which he matched his career-high for strikeouts in a game with 10.

That was a pleasant sign to see as it was a great bounce-back outing after getting rocked by Philadelphia in his first start of the season. Not only will this be his first-ever start against the Cubs, but it will be his first-ever start outside the Eastern Time zone as he faced only AL and NL East teams across his young career.

For Davies, things haven't gone well at all, especially his last two outings. After a great first start with the Cubs, Davies has been hit hard, allowing 11 runs on 12 hits in just 5 2/3 innings combined in his last two starts. A big reason for his struggles has been his command, as it hasn't been as sharp as he would like. That has led to not only hard contact but high pitch counts, which chases him early.

Davies has had moderate success against the Mets in his career but has pitched better against them in his last three starts. Almora Jr has the most plate appearances against him in terms of bats in the lineup and has put together some great at-bats. Look for him to get the start on Wednesday.

Thursday, April 22, 6:40 PM CDT on Marquee Sports Network: Jacob DeGrom 1-1 0.45 ERA 35K vs. Trevor Williams 2-1 5.02 ERA 13K

The Cubs have seen many good pitchers to start the season, but DeGrom is in a class of his own. The veteran ace is like a fine bottle of wine that gets better with age and is now on a hall of fame trajectory. DeGrom also features the highest average velocity of any pitcher on his heater, averaging 99.1 MPH.

Not only did DeGrom get his first win of the season last start, but he flirted with history in the process striking out nine consecutive batters at one point. The thing the Cubs have going for them is the Mets not only struggle to score runs for him, but DeGrom has the seventh-highest ERA facing them, posting a 3.30 ERA in nine starts. Maybe the Cubs can get into a homer or two.

While DeGrom has been lights out all season, Williams is battling through inconsistencies, although his most recent start was better. Even though his ERA is a 5.02 on the season, through two starts at Wrigley in 2021, Williams has gone 2-0 with a solid 3.45 ERA. Compare that to his career 5.93 ERA in 10 games at Wrigley, and you can see how much he has improved.

Williams has had great success against Alonso in this lineup, but Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and McCann have hit him hard over his career. Limiting the middle of their lineup will be the key for Williams as he looks to remain unbeaten at home this year.

Prediction: FLY THE W

This will be an interesting series for the Cubs as they will once again face some hard-throwing pitchers. The one advantage they have in this series, as opposed to some other teams is, they play DeGrom hard, and put up quality at-bats against him. Often that forces him out of the game earlier than normal, which gives the Cubs offense a chance at a win.

I would still give DeGrom the advantage over any of the other Cubs starts but the rest of the series is wide open as either team can win. The Mets lineup has been more consistent when it comes to scoring runs, but the Cubs offense can be more potent at scoring runs. I like the Cubs to take two of three in this series, setting themselves up for a winning homestand this weekend.

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