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New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs: Series Preview

Can the Yankees pick up a series win as the Cubs come to town?

Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

To start the week, the Yankees had a very notable series against the upstart and division rival Baltimore Orioles. After some nice wins and some disappointing losses in that one, it’s time to turn our focus to some interleague play as the Chicago Cubs are set to come to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series kicking off tonight. Last year when the Yankees were surging in June, they swept Chicago out of town by a combined score of 28-5. It’s hard to get much more dominant than that, so expect closer ballgames to say the least (particularly with no Aaron Judge).

The Cubs come into this series a couple games under .500 having spent much of the season hovering around the mark. Some offseason additions have paid off (Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger) while others... well, we’ll get to that. Their offense is mostly middle of the pack, while their pitching — led by Marcus Stroman and a couple other nice performers — has generally been above average.

Before the action gets going tonight, let’s take a look at the planned pitching matchups for the next couple days.

Friday: Carlos Rodón vs. Jameson Taillon (7:05 pm ET)

Almost seven months since signing with the Yankees and nearly 90 games into the regular season, we will finally get to see Rodón made his Yankee debut in the series opener. While Judge’s return was obviously the biggest news item of the team’s offseason, Rodón’s signing was the marquee addition going into this year. He was coming off a 2022 season in San Francisco that saw him put up a 2.88 ERA and a 2.25 FIP while finishing sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Injuries over the years have been the big mark against him, and a muscle strain and a back issue have reared their head this year, causing him to miss the first half of the year. However, Friday night will see him finally don a Yankees’ uniform; expect him to be on a pitch count of around 75 after throwing 58 in his last rehab start.

One of the most notable outgoing Yankees this past season was Taillon, who left for the Cubs in free agency on a four-year deal. Now, he’ll make his return in the opener. Taillon’s career in Chicago has not been great so far, as he has a 6.93 ERA and a 5.17 FIP in 63.2 innings across 14 starts. He’s actually lowered those totals a bit since the start of June, but he still has a 5.85 ERA in that time. Taillon had a 3.38 ERA and 1.096 WHIP in 31 starts in the Bronx from 2021-22, so maybe the familiar territory will help him bounce back.

Saturday: Gerrit Cole vs. Drew Smyly (1:05 pm ET)

After a shaky start, Cole ended up battling through six innings in his most recent outing against St. Louis, only to take a loss thanks to a bad day from the lineup. While he had his issues back in May, the All-Star has a 2.50 ERA and 2.76 FIP over his last 36 innings, and most of that damage came from his last two starts.

Very early in the season, way before Domingo Germán pulled off the feat, Smyly took a perfect game bid into the late innings, only for it to be broken up an in impressively weird fashion.

Including that start, he was pretty good throughout the early part of the season. However starting with an outing on May 28th, he has an ERA over six as hitters have OPS’d .947 off him.

Sunday: Domingo Germán vs. Kyle Hendricks (1:35 pm ET)

Germán made his first appearance since his perfect game on Monday, and didn’t quite follow that up with another dominant outing. He wasn’t completely terrible, but he did exit after 4.1 innings, having allowed nine hits. That’s always been the thing with Germán. His best is very good, but he can be beaten when just a few things aren’t going his way.

After an impressive run throughout the period where the Cubs were making the playoffs and winning the World Series, Hendricks was a very good pitcher for them. However, his decline had seemingly begun with down years in 2021 and ‘22, and he even missed a large chunk of last season with injury. Flash forward to this year, and he’s had a very nice return to form. Hendricks made his season debut in late May and had a bit of an iffy outing. Since then through, he’s only allowed more than three runs in a start once and has a 1.95 ERA in his last five games.