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Cubs enter twin bill with Mets looking to end 7-game skid


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Marcus Stroman has enjoyed some success during his first season with the Chicago Cubs. Going up against his most recent former club could provide extra incentive for another good outing.

Facing the visiting Mets for the first time since leaving New York after last season, Stroman (2-5, 4.91 ERA) will try to help the Cubs snap a seven-game losing streak in Game 1 of Saturday’s split doubleheader. The teams’ scheduled Friday game was rained out.

Traded to the Mets from Toronto prior to the 2019 deadline, Stroman went 14-15 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.15 WHIP during 44 starts for New York. After opting out of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, the right-hander had a team-high 10 wins for the Mets last season.

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However, New York successfully pursued Max Scherzer, leaving Stroman on the outside looking in. Somewhat bitter about that, Stroman signed a three-year, $71 million contract with the Cubs in December.

Judging by his overall record and an 0-3 mark with 9.33 ERA in four home starts, Stroman is still finding his place with Chicago.

However, Stroman has yielded more than two earned runs just once in his past seven starts. After missing than a month due to shoulder inflammation, he returned July 9 to allow just two hits and a walk over four scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

“I think we found some things to work on going forward to provide some consistency,” Stroman said. “I’m excited to see the results.”

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Stroman has made just one start against the Mets. In July 2018, while a member of the Blue Jays, he surrendered six runs 4 2/3 innings with six hits and four walks as host Toronto won 6-3.

Chicago needs to see some positive results after batting .198 while being outscored 43-20 during its second-longest losing streak of 2022. The Cubs managed only eight hits, all singles, while falling 8-0 on Thursday in the series opener.

Now, they face stiff tests against Taijuan Walker (7-2, 2.63 ERA) in Game 1 and Scherzer (6-1, 2.15) for NL-leading New York, which totaled 15 runs while winning its past two games after scoring a mere 12 during a 2-3 stretch.

Walker, who has already matched his win total from 2021, has not allowed a run in two of his last three starts. The right-hander did not allow a run in two of his last three starts, most recently Sunday, when he yielded three hits and a walk while striking out seven in seven innings during a no-decision against the Miami Marlins.

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“He’s had a competitive gleam in his eye since the day he walked into (spring training),” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Tai really wants to be a contributor to a really good club.”

Cubs All-Stars Ian Happ and Willson Contreras are a combined 2-for-9 against Walker. Contreras is also 3-for-35 (.086) with 12 strikeouts in July, and 2-for-10 during the regular-season vs. Scherzer.

Walker has made three starts in his career against the Cubs, going 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA covering 15 2/3 innings.

In a pair of starts since missing nearly two months with an oblique injury, Scherzer appears back to his stellar self after allowing one run and five hits with 20 strikeouts and no walks over 13 innings. The right-hander is 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 10 regular-season starts against the Cubs.

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New York’s Pete Alonso has six homers in eight career games at Wrigley Field. Fellow Mets All-Star Starling Marte is 10-for-26 (.385) during a six-game road hitting streak.

Alonso and Marte are a combined 7-for-19 against Chicago’s nightcap starter Drew Smyly (2-5, 4.43 ERA). The left-hander allowed four runs and five hits in just two innings on Sunday against the Dodgers during his return from missing more than a month with an oblique issue.

Smyly has made four appearances, including two starts, against the Mets, and is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA against them.

Chicago’s Nico Hoerner is batting .390 (32-for-82) during his last 21 contests.

–Field Level Media

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