The Chicago Cubs had to settle for a split with the Padres at Wrigley over the weekend. Against a team like the Padres at home, you would hope to win three of four with the upcoming pennant race approaching. The Cubs took it on the chin with a 10-6 loss Sunday. They head into Kansas City with a .500 record in their previous ten games. Right about now would be about the time to ratchet it up and surge ahead.
The Brewers lost a tough one in the 11th inning on Sunday, so the Cubs remain a game up in the National League Central. Milwaukee are 2-3 in August, as we wait for somebody to put the foot to the pedal in the division. It’s up for grabs at the moment, with the Cubs missing an opportunity to at least get out of the weekend with a 2-game lead. It’s hopefully a warning as they go into Kansas City to play a down Royals squad.
Following a 6-5 loss to the Twins on Sunday, the Royals fell to 34-77. The Royals don’t expect their team to win many baseball games over the next two months. They traded away fan favorite Mike Moustakas to signal the exit of another member of their World Series winning team. Fans have a little more patience with this rebuilding process as a result of the World Series they won in 2015.
However, if losing this badly just keeps up for the next five years you’ll start seeing some frustration. To their benefit, the Cardinals haven’t been a contender, so they can’t say anything. The Royals had three straight years of 100 loss seasons and four of five resulted in 100 losses from 2002 to 2006. The Royals went ten years between 2003 to 2013 without a season above .500. They look like the same team without any clutch hitting or pitching. Basically, everything they weren’t in 2015. Second-year pitcher, Jakob Junis, will take on veteran Cole Hamels to get the week started Monday. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Royals pick.
Chicago Cubs vs. K.C. Royals Pick
Cole Hamels (6-9, 4.53 ERA) vs. Jakob Junis (6-11, 5.12 ERA)
Cole Hamels had an electric debut with the Cubs, blanking the Pirates over 5 innings of work. He allowed just 3 hits and had 9 punchouts to aid the Cubs in a 9-2 victory. If Hamels can be remotely that good, the sting of losing Yu Darvish wouldn’t hurt as badly. Darvish says he feels optimistic after a bullpen session but interpret that how ever you wish.
We expected him back by now, so who knows by this point. Hamels looked like a completely different pitcher than he did in Texas. He posted an ERA of 4.72 in 114.1 innings as a Ranger. Maybe Hamels needed a change of scenery. Getting traded to a contending team could have helped out, but we’ll see how he follows his debut up against a bad offense like the Royals. Pitch badly here, and that debut could be seen as more of a fluke.
Hamels has been terrific against this lineup, holding them down for a batting average of .205 and 2 long balls in 132 at-bats. Note that the Royals are tied for last with 3.71 runs per game. The team they’re tied with is the Padres, so they will look to avoid two bad days against the worst offenses in the majors. Junis enters with an ERA of 5.02 and 1.81 WHIP in his previous three starts.
He’s allowed at least 5 runs in five of his last eight appearances. Home hasn’t helped him much, as he holds a 5.37 ERA and .335 OBA at Kauffman. Junis is backed by the worst bullpen in baseball, 30th with an ERA of 5.41. Conversely, the Cubs are 4th with an ERA of 3.27. That was an ugly display put on by the Cubs at Wrigley on Sunday. However, I expect the Cubs to turn it on soon. Will it begin against the Royals? I don’t know, but they should at win this one by at least 2 runs.