After a subpar road trip that ended with a series loss to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Cubs will be happy to be back at the “Friendly Confines.” While they were off on Monday, the Cubs will open a nine-game homestand on Tuesday night against the New York Mets. After dropping four of seven games on the road, the Cubs are 20-25 overall, good for fifth place in the National League Central in front of only the Houston Astros. The Cubs are already 6.5 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals and need a good nine games at Wrigley in order to stay close to the frontrunners in the division.
Luckily for the Cubs, the three teams they’ll play in Chicago are a combined 16 games under .500. The Mets lost two of three games to the New York Yankees over the weekend and are 22-24 overall. The Pittsburgh Pirates are 4-1 in their last five and 22-24 overall. The Houston Astros offer the best chance for the Cubs to come away with a series win, as they are 18-30 and have the worst record in baseball.
The Cubbies will need all the help they can get, as their starting pitching has been horrendous and they are only 9-13 in home games. The Cubs will also be without outfielder Marlon Byrd indefinitely because of the facial fractures he sustained when he was hit by a pitch on Saturday night. Starting pitcher Matt Garza and infielder Jeff Baker were also injured this past weekend, adding to the list of players unable to take the field. Starters Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells and catcher Geovany Soto were already on the disabled list before the weekend started.
The Cubs have lost eight of 13 games and the depressing part of Sunday’s 5-1 loss to Boston was the fact that it was better than most people expected (with James Russell starting, it would not have been surprising to see the Sox score in the double digits for the second time in the series). While the Cubs season has been disappointing so far, the homestand will give the team a chance to turn things around. They need better starting pitching and more consistent hitting in key situations, but they definitely have a chance for their first three-game winning streak of the season. Tomorrow night, Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (2-4, 6.91 ERA) will face the Mets’ Jon Niese (3-4, 4.39 ERA) at 8:05 pm (ET).