The Cubs run differential has been an oft-discussed topic, and rightfully so with it sitting at a whooping +239. It feels like half of those runs have come against the Reds. It was going to be a tough year for the Reds, and the Cubs have certainly done their part to make sure that was the case. The Cubs will get one final crack at the Reds before the season ends, as the Cubs look to pad some statistics while playing out the string.
Top Play (WPA): The score was tied at two apiece in the bottom of the third inning. Ben Zobrist walked with one out and advanced into scoring position on Javier Baez’s two-out single. Miguel Montero ripped a 3-2 fastball into left field driving in Ben Zobrist (.136). The Cubs would never relinquish the lead again.
Bottom Play (WPA): The Reds fell behind early in this one, but were swinging aggressively against John Lackey in the second inning. Brandon Phillips grounded out to third base on the first pitch to start the inning. Scott Schebler swung and fouled the first pitch he saw before hitting a solid single on the next one. Then the Reds got on the board when Steve Selsky hit a double on the first pitch. That play increased the Reds’ chance of winning the game by the largest amount (-.116).
Key Moment: This moment happened just a few batters after the Selsky double. Tucker Barnhart walked, and the pair was advanced 90 feet with a Robert Stephenson sacrifice bunt. Jose Peraza continued his second half hot hitting with a single into left field. Selsky scored easily, but Barnhart was gunned down by Chris Coghlan at the plate. The game swung after that as the Reds would manage only three more base runners on the entire night. A Joey Votto double in the third was the last base runner allowed by John Lackey. Hector Rondon hit Ramon Cabrera in the eighth inning and Adam Duvall singled against Mike Montgomery in the ninth. And that was it. The Cubs easily cruised to victory with the pitching performances after the second inning.
Trend to Watch: Miguel Montero had the best night, but the Cubs’ bottom of the order left-handed hitters all had good nights. Montero ended the night with three hits and three RBIs. Heyward reached base twice but had a few hard hit outs as well. Chris Coghlan reached based three times, as well.
But the trend that is most interesting to watch is Mike Montgomery. He has been solid in the rotation, but tonight was his first bullpen appearance since he moved into the rotation during John Lackey’s DL stint. Montgomery pitched a scoreless inning with the aforementioned Duvall single the only blemish. The Cubs could use a solid left-handed reliever with Travis Wood appearing to regress to his peripherals, and Montgomery could certainly be that if his recent success in the rotation can be translated into the bullpen.
Coming Next: Tomorrow is the Cubs’ last off day in the 2016 regular season. The Cubs begin their final home series and likely the last games with any sort of playoff implications while facing the Cardinals. Jake Arrieta will face Mike Leake on Friday afternoon to start the last Cardinals series of the regular season. The Cubs will get a chance to finally get a run against Alex Reyes Saturday with Jason Hammel opposing him. The finale will be on Sunday night with Jon Lester and Carlos Martinez squaring off against each other.
Lead photo courtesy David Banks—USA Today Sports