I’m on vacation, so this preview will be a bit abbreviated, and won’t provide the usual in-depth, hard-hitting coverage that you’re used to getting from one of Smarty’s previews.
Record: 37-39, Third place in National League Central (Three games back)
The last time they met
The Cubs visited Philadelphia in mid-May and after bludgeoning the Phillies 10-1 in the opener, the Phillies responded with a dominating 12-3 win. The Phillies pulled out a close one in the finale thanks to Bryson Stott’s late home run.
Bryson Stott sends one yard to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead over the Cubs pic.twitter.com/LOuBvXaffa— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@PhillyInquirer) May 21, 2023
The Cubs have been on an upswing, going 17-13 since that series, with a strong 13-8 showing in June. (It certainly helps to have had a series of games against the reeling Pirates and Cardinals) The team has been carried by a pitching staff with the third best ERA in the NL. They’re getting a potential career-best season from Marcus Stroman, and an unexpectedly strong season from an old friend...
Nola vs. Smyly
On Wednesday night, Drew Smyly is scheduled to start for the Cubs against Aaron Nola. How many of you would have believed me if at the end of the 2019 season I told you that we’d get a Nola vs. Smyly matchup in 2023, and it wouldn’t be clear which team had the advantage.
Drew Smyly has a 1.74 ERA over his last 7 road starts! pic.twitter.com/HeLxkBG7ma— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) June 20, 2023
So much for the Belli-saince
For a second there, people got excited about Cody Bellinger’s resurgent season. But after ending April with seven home runs and a .976 OPS, he hasn’t hit a home run since and his OPS is down to .769.
The Pirates were 20-9 with the best record in the NL the last time Cody Bellinger hit a HR (April 30).— nugget chef (@jayhaykid) June 26, 2023
So those wins don’t count?
There was some sentiment that the Phillies’ wins against the Mets should barely count because the Mets basically handed them to the Phillies.
The Phillies did not win 2 games this weekend, the Mets lost 2 games. If you dont see the difference you're fooling yourself— Ray Moffo (@RayMoffo) June 25, 2023
Apparently, these people haven’t watched any Phillies vs. Mets games the past two seasons because in my book, the Mets were simply returning a long-overdue favor.
The Cubs as an MCU villain
Among comics fans, despite the ominous name, MODOK has always been considered somewhat of a lovable loser. (When a cartoon version of the character is voiced by Patton Oswalt, you’re not going to be taken too seriously.) In the MCU, Darren Cross was a loser as a human, and a loser as a cyborg. Even in those brief times when he seems to be winning, nobody really considers him a serious threat.
Every time I take a beach vacation, I realize I like the idea of taking a beach vacation more than the actual vacation.
I really shouldn’t complain though. It certainly beats doing actual work.
It counts the same in the standings, but in the Phillies’ last two series wins, they were helped out greatly by the ineptitude of their opponents. The Cubs might not be in the same stratosphere as the Braves right now, but they should at least play competent baseball. If the Phillies are going to win games this series, they’ll likely have to earn them.