The Chicago Cubs are looking to expand on their lead in the National League Central this weekend as they wrap up a tough road trip with a four game series against the Washington Nationals.
The Cubs, who just dropped two of three games to the Milwaukee Brewers, still have the National League’s best record and a four-game lead in the Central, but they’ll be hoping to finish off their trip on a positive note as they face former bench coach Davey Martinez and the Nationals.
Thursday: Kyle Hendricks vs. Stephen Strasburg
After a rough stretch of games, Hendricks has been in fine form as of late, registering quality starts in four of his last five outings. His last start was good, inducing 12 ground balls and striking out four batters in a 7-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Strasburg has been finding his form lately as well, and he has had some good success recently against the Cubs, striking out 22 Cub hitters in 14 innings of work in last season’s National League Division Series.
The game will be the first back in D.C. for Daniel Murphy after he was traded to the Cubs in August, and he has been hitting the ball well for the North Siders, including a home run against the Brewers on Wednesday night.
Friday: Jon Lester vs. Joe Ross
Ever since he gave up eight earned runs in 3.2 innings against the Nationals on Aug. 11, Lester has given up a total of four earned runs in his last four starts. He struck out seven Phillies and had zero walks in his last outing, and has a 15-5 record on the regular season.
It’s hard to figure what the Nationals will get out of Ross, as he will be making his first start since undergoing Tommy John Surgery last summer.
Saturday: Cole Hamels vs. Max Scherzer
The marquee matchup of the weekend comes on Saturday, as Hamels and Scherzer go toe-to-toe in the nation’s capital. Hamels has been dominant with the Cubs, and although he gave up two runs in his last start, it was the first time he had given up multiple earned runs in the same start as a member of the North Siders.
Scherzer last pitched against the Cubs in last month’s memorable showdown at Wrigley, when the Cubs won on a walk-off grand slam by David Bote. In that game, Scherzer struck out 11 batters and gave up no runs in seven innings, and he’ll look to replicate that success again.
Sunday: Mike Montgomery vs. Erick Fedde
Montgomery is still trying to find his rhythm as he makes his return off the disabled list, as he gave up two runs and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning in his last outing vs. the Brewers.
Fedde doesn’t have a long track record against the Cubs, but one hitter certainly isn’t afraid of facing him, as Willson Contreras has two career home runs in three career at-bats vs. the righty.