Previewing the Texas Rangers' third series of the season: Chicago Cubs
By West Jones
For the first time this season, the Texas Rangers will be on the road as they head to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs in a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon. The Rangers are fresh off a 4W - 2L homestand to start the season, and the Cubs come into the series with a 2W - 3L record after their series finale scheduled for Wednesday in Cincinnati was rained out.
The Cubs have missed the playoffs the past two years but have made the tournament in five of the last eight seasons. Included in that stretch is the historic World Series Championship season of 2016.
Texas Rangers are on the road to take on the Chicago Cubs for a three-game series
This offseason found the Cubs to be active participants in the free-agent market. The highlight of the signings was getting 29-year-old gold glove shortstop Dansby Swanson. After signing a seven-year, $177 million dollar contract Swanson is quickly becoming a fan favorite for Cubs fans as he is hitting at a ferocious clip and making highlight plays in the field. Through five games he is slashing .500/.583/.600 with a 229 wRC+. For a team that was looking for a face of the franchise following the departure of the organization's core players over the past several seasons, Swanson could be the answer they were looking for.
Swanson wasn't the only offseason move that the Cubs made. They also signed Trey Mancini, Cody Bellinger, and Eric Hosmer to short-term deals seeing if any of the players can tap into their former production. The Cubs also signed pitcher Jameson Taillon who grew up in The Woodlands and was selected with the second pick of the first round in the 2010 MLB draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Taillon pitched his first four professional seasons for the Pirates before spending the last two seasons in New York with the Yankees.
It wasn't just about the additions this offseason for the Cubs. They lost three-time All-Star catcher, Wilson Contreras to the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals and Brewers are the favorites to win the National League Central, followed by the Cubs and then the Pirates and Reds. Even though the Cubs are picked to finish out of the playoffs again this year, they are in the right division to make a run if they can slightly over-perform.
Playing on the north side of Chicago usually means some day games. This trip for the Rangers is actually going to consist of all three games being the daytime variety. Watching Cub's day baseball always takes me back to my childhood and spending hot summer afternoons with my buddy Thomas Supercinski looking through baseball cards and tuning into WGN. Not only did we both love baseball, but it was must-see TV with Harry Caray and Steve Stone (now with the White Sox) on the call.
The weather for the series is going to be cold, but it could be much worse this time of year in Chicago. Friday's game looks to be the coldest with highs in the mid to low-40s but sunny. It is supposed to warm slightly over the weekend with Saturday being in the mid-50s and Sunday in the upper-50s.
Date and Time
Rangers Starting Pitcher
Cubs Starting Pitcher
Fri, April 7 - 1:20 CT
Nathan Eovaldi - RHP
Marcus Stroman - RHP
Sat, April 8 - 3:05 CT
Martin Perez - LHP
Justin Steele - LHP
Sun, April 9 - 1:20 CT
Jon Gray - RHP
Jameson Taillon - RHP
Because of the Cub's rainout on Wednesday, the Rangers will be facing the top three pitchers in their rotation. Marcus Stroman is a solid veteran and Justin Steele is an underrated young lefty with some real upside potential. The Cubs will close out the series with the Rangers by throwing new addition Taillon. Texas will counter with a solid slate of arms as well with Eovaldi, Perez, and Gray taking the bump for the visiting Rangers.
The Rangers will travel home to take on the Kansas City Royals for a three-game series Monday through Wednesday before going back on the road starting Friday, April 14 for a six-game road trip to Houston and Kansas City.