REDS (22-27) AT CUBS (29-19)
2:20 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, MLBN, FS-O, MLB.TV
The Cincinnati Reds will open a three-game series on the road against the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
In the opener Friday afternoon, the Reds’ starting pitcher and bullpen will each be looking for redemption.
The Reds will hand the ball to Anthony DeSclafani, who has a 2-2 record and a 4.60 earned run average. He has a career record of 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in five starts at Wrigley Field.
However, DeSclafani struggled mightily in his last start, a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He gave up three home runs and lasted only four innings for the second consecutive start. DeSclafani allowed six hits and four runs to the Dodgers.
“Nothing was working,” DeSclafani told reporters. “It’s pretty embarrassing for myself, to say the least. I’ve got to be better. I was lucky. They were crushing line drives right at people.”
DeSclafani has surrendered 14 hits and eight runs, including four homers in eight innings over his previous two starts.
Still, the Reds’ starters have allowed 46 combined home runs this season, the fewest in the National League.
The Reds bullpen had been stellar with a league-leading 3.31 ERA entering Wednesday. But they were knocked around in an 11-9 loss at Milwaukee.
The bullpen combined to give up five runs in the sixth inning against the powerful Brewers offense.
“Our bullpen has been so good all year,” Reds manager David Bell told reporters. “But days like this one are going to happen and they’re going to bounce back.”
The Cubs will counter with Kyle Hendricks, who’s 4-4 with a 3.21 ERA through nine starts this season.
Over Hendricks’ last six outings, he’s 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA while striking out 35 and walking six in 42 2/3 innings.
In Hendricks’ last start, a 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals last Sunday, he lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed four hits and four runs. He retired the first 11 batters and didn’t allow a hit until the opening batter of the fifth.
“I wasn’t attacking as well as I have been the last few games and my fastball command kind of suffered from there,” Hendricks said. “I was kind of fighting myself, battling myself and couldn’t figure out why. I kept trying to be aggressive. I kept trying to attack, but it just wasn’t as good.”
Hendricks did give the Cubs enough innings through a gritty performance.
“To be able to get through that many innings, it was huge,” Hendricks said. “That the lineup kept grinding and extending the lead because I knew I didn’t quite have it.”
Anthony Rizzo had a home run and his first four-hit game on Thursday against the Phillies since September 2018. Rizzo had four hits and three RBIs.
Meanwhile, Kris Bryant is likely to be back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday for rest. Bryant walked as a pinch hitter in the sixth.
The Cubs fell behind 7-0 Thursday and played sloppy at times, but they battled back in a hard-fought 9-7 defeat.
“We had a couple of mistakes early, but the intensity of our guys is outstanding,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
–Field Level Media