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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (68-58) at Philadelphia Phillies (46-80), Aug. 25-27

chicago_cubs_logo.pngThe Phillies bring in the reigning world champs for a weekend set during “Players Weekend.” This should be yet another good test to see how the new look Phils, complete with Hoskins and Williams, fare against one of the best teams in baseball. The Phils will still be short of Herrera and Altherr but hopefully the new guys can make up the difference.

Players Weekend will feature the “nickname” jerseys so that should bring at least a minor bit of extra fun to the games.

Chicago is deep in another bid for a postseason run although their division is a bit tighter this year than it was last. They need to win these games to keep their narrow three game lead in the NL Central intact. The Brewers and Cardinals are hot on their heels and the path to the postseason will be easiest if they don’t have to vie for the wildcard spot, of which they would be a half game back as it currently stands.

The Cubs are fairly hot right now having won five of their last six. Jon Jay and Jayson Heyward were on fire during their recent series against division rivals The Cinncinnatti Reds and as always there’s Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to deal with. Phils pitchers will have their hands full but hopefully they’re up to the task.

Friday, August 25th, 7:05pm, Jose Quintana (8-10, 4.27 ERA) vs Jared Eichkoff (3-7, 4.46 ERA)

Don’t let either ERA fool you, both pitchers are better than that although neither has shown the propensity for going deep into games. Expect this one to be decided by the bullpens. In his last start Quintana went six innings giving up two runs on four hits to a light hitting Blue Jays lineup. For his part Eichkoff didn’t make it out of the fifth in San Francisco, giving up four runs on eight hits. Hopefully the Phils can get back on track vs left handed pitching.

Saturday, August 26th, 7:05pm, Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.52 ERA) vs Ben Lively (1-4, 3.70 ERA)

Hendricks has been great since retiring from the disabled list about a month ago. He’s posting a very competitive 2.45 ERA in his last six starts but the Cubs have still managed to lose four of those games. Lively hasn’t been great but he’s still managed to be effective by tightening up when runners get on. With runners in scoring position the opposition is only hitting .234 vs Lively. The Cubs are among the league leaders in OBP so Lively will have to continue that stinginess on Saturday.

Sunday, August 27th, 1:35pm, TBA vs TBA

I think who starts this game for the Phillies depends on how the previous two games go. If they can manage to make it through these games without using Adam Morgan I would guess he would get the nod. I have no idea if newly signed Henderson Alvarez is in majors pitching shape or not but if he is he could be a possibility. Thomas Eshelman would be an interesting choice as well but he’s not even on the 40 Man Roster so some shuffling would need to occur to make that happen. He last pitched on the 21st so he would be rested.

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