Everything about the Chicago Cubs vs. Cincinnati Reds series this weekend at Great American Ball Park screams mismatch.
The Cubs pitched 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta in the series opener Thursday and follow with Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel, who have combined to win 326 games in 36 seasons.
The Reds counter with Brandon Finnegan, Jon Moscot, Dan Straily and Alfredo Simon. That group has 65 victories, and Simon has 45 of them.
The Cubs swept three games from the Reds at Wrigley Field last week and are picked by many experts to win the World Series for the first time in 108 years.
“A good showing for me is winning the series, and that’s going to take three wins in this case,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We’re supposed to play the better teams and not just compete and give them a good game but come out with wins. That’s why we’re 8-7. We’re playing well at home. There have been some games that have got away from us, but for the most part, we’ve been in most of the games we’ve played.”
Hamilton hurt: Scott Schebler started in center field Thursday instead of Billy Hamilton, who is nursing a sore thumb. Price said Hamilton first hurt the thumb leaping against the wall for a catch in St. Louis and aggravated the injury Wednesday diving for a ball in a 6-5 victory against the Colorado Rockies.
“I think he can do everything but hit comfortably,” Price said. “We probably won’t see him in the startling lineup for at least a couple of days, and then we’ll reassess where he is. He’ll wear a splint to keep the thumb from getting jarred.”
Bailey’s start: Homer Bailey was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. Bailey, who hasn’t pitched for the Reds since April 23, 2015, and underwent elbow surgery last year, remains on track to return in May.
“It’s always great when your rehab guys go out and throw great, but in the end, you really want health. It’s not irrelevant how they pitch. The relevancy is in how he feels, expanding his work load, gaining strength and stamina.”
More rehab: John Lamb (back) will make his second rehab start for Louisville on Friday. Anthony DeSclafani (oblique muscle) will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Double-A Pensacola.
Friday’s game: Moscot returns to the mound for a 7:10 p.m. game Friday. It’s his second start of the season. He allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings Sunday in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals in St. Louis.