Cubs vs Yankees – Series Preview (May 5-7): TV and Game Info, Pitching Matchups, Insights

What an exciting way to end a great four-game series. After dropping the first game in a sloppy mess, the Cubs took three out of four from the Phillies, including a 13-inning walk-off win on a throwing error. The Cubs are the masters at making things interesting and nerve-wracking for their fans, with their constant comebacks and close games.

This weekend, they welcome the Bronx Bombers to Wrigley in what promises to be another intriguing matchup. An old friend will be returning for the first time since he was traded two seasons ago. Starlin Castro, who was drafted by the Cubs and was with the team from 2010-2015, is performing extremely well so far this season.

He’s still the same hitter who relies primarily on making good contact and finding holes in defenses, but since he got to New York his offense has improved. Castro’s slashing .362/.402/.543 on the season, which is incredible for a second baseman. If fans give him a warm, emotional welcome, it’s because he was the cornerstone of the Cubs offense for so long. Expect it to get a little misty not only in the stadium, but also in homes across the country when he is introduced on Friday.

Aroldis Chapman will also be returning to Wrigley and will receive his World Series ring Friday during the pregame ceremony

So far this year, the Yankees have been nothing short of impressive. Their pitching is doing well and their hitting is launching balls out of parks at an impressive rate. Aaron Judge, their massive rookie right fielder (listed at 6’7″ 282 lbs), currently leads the league in home runs. He consistently hits the ball hard, with an average exit velocity of 95.57 mph that is way above the MLB average (87.7 mph). His OPS is a ridiculous 1.251, which is just ahead of Bryce Harper on the major league leaderboard.

The Cubs have hit only 33 home runs as a team this season, while the Yankees have hit 44 in total. Surprisingly, though, the Yankees have not scored many more runs than the Cubs, leading them by six (148-142).

Game Time and Broadcast Info

Friday, May 5 at 1:20 CST on CSN
Saturday, May 6 at 6:15 CST on Fox
Sunday, May 7 at 7:05 CST on ESPN

Starting Pitchers

Date Pitcher T ERA FIP W/L K/BB
5/5 Kyle Hendricks R 4.18 5.08 2-1 1.83
Michael Pineda R 3.14 3.15 3-1 9.25
5/6 Brett Anderson L 6.23 4.52 2-1 1.25
Jordan Motgomery L 4.15 3.64 1-1 2.30
5/7 Jon Lester L 3.67 4.06 1-1 2.21
Luis Severino R 3.86 3.78 2-2 6.0

What to Watch For

It has become a theme for the Cubs, but if they want to contain the Yankees’ powerful offense, the starting pitching has to come to play in the 1st inning. In five of the last six games, Cubs starters have given up at least one run in the opening frame.

When facing a team in the middle of the pack, in terms of runs scored, giving up early runs can be manageable, but if the Cubs starters cannot contain the Yankees offense in the early stages of the series’ games, then it may very well be a long series. If the starters perform well early on in the ballgames, I’d be willing to bet they win this series.

Pay attention to how the Cubs offense performs against the Yankees starting pitchers. As you can see from the table above, both Pineda and Severino strike batters out at a high rate. And they are pitching well, not just getting lucky, as their fielding independent pitching (FIP) indicates. FIP is not a perfect pitching stat, but it is more indicative of a pitcher’s actual performance than ERA is since it takes fielding, or a team’s defense, out of consideration.

If the Cubs want to win this series they will likely have to score four or more runs each time out, which has not been a problem for them since they’re averaging over five runs per game so far this season. The offense needs to force the opposing starters to throw a lot of pitches, like they’ve become known to do. When that happens, the bats should be up to the task of scoring enough runs to overshadow the potential for early runs that tend to be given up by Cubs’ pitching.

Matthias Woeckener

I'm a criminology doctoral student livin' in the South, and was drawn to the Cubs in the late '90s via WGN and Slammin' Sammy. My favorite current Cubs player is Anthony Rizzo. I hate bunts and intentional walks with a passion. Follow me on twitter (@wecknerd) for some great #content.
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