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Ruoff Mortgage Homestand Preview: Cubs Welcome Chiefs

A home-and-home 6-game series vs Peoria awaits South Bend this week
June 27, 2024

This week the South Bend Cubs celebrate Independence Day with a series of incredible promotions, and a series on the diamond that puts the Cubs against the High-A affiliate of the Saint Louis Cardinals, the Peoria Chiefs. These two sides met just a few weeks ago in a 6-game series

This week the South Bend Cubs celebrate Independence Day with a series of incredible promotions, and a series on the diamond that puts the Cubs against the High-A affiliate of the Saint Louis Cardinals, the Peoria Chiefs.

These two sides met just a few weeks ago in a 6-game series that Peoria hosted and dominated, taking five wins at Dozer Park in central Illinois. The final game featured three ejections, a walk-off balk with two outs and two strikes in the 11th inning, and the Peoria bench nearly coming out of the dugout in the final frame.

Needless to say, we could be in for some fun this week.

Due to it being the week of July 4th, the schedule for the series is an outlier when compared with the rest of the season. Four Winds Field will host the first three games of the week, Monday through Wednesday, and then both teams will travel west to Peoria for the final three games of the set on Thursday through Saturday.

Patrick Anderson’s team enters this week with the worst record in the Midwest League, but this is a feisty group that clobbered 10 homers in the series against South Bend last month. In fact since June 4 they lead the league in homers, on-base percentage, and OPS, while clocking in second in slugging and batting average. The offense has completely turned in around as of late.

Dakota Harris has been one of the catalysts for this power surge, and the young infielder killed the Cubs last time out. In the series opener the former Oklahoma Sooner went 2-for-4 with a homer, two runs scored, a stolen base, and a double. He as just getting started. In five games against South Bend, the 22-year-old from Tampa, Florida hit .556 with an astounding OPS of 1.711. He finished the series going 10-for-18 with three homers and eight RBIs.

In those six meetings the Chiefs outscored the Cubs 38-to-21 and Peoria as a team rocked an OPS of .840 for the series.

Alex Iadisernia, who we saw a lot of last year, batted .400 for the week with three extra-base hits and was ejected in Sunday’s finale after starting the say 2-for-2. Former longtime big leaguer Ryan Ludwick, who is a special advisor with the Cardinals, thinks the former Elon man is one of the young risers on their High-A roster, and what we saw that week certainly was good evidence of his potential.

Taken in the fifth round last year out of Miami (FL), Zach Levenson was off to a blistering start to the season, then fell into the midst of a slump before busting out against the Cubs. That week the Cards No. 21 prospect hit .353 with five extra-base hits, including a run-scoring triple that brought home a key insurance run in the eighth inning of the opener. His three at-bats that followed the next day were a single, homer, and double… Giving him the cycle over a four at-bat stretch, but obviously not within one game. Don’t forget about Joshua Baez either, he homered twice that series and from the sounds of it he really started to click vs Fort Wayne and the Cardinals No. 28 prospect is catching a little fire here during the middle of the season.

You also have to keep in mind that despite all the success at the plate from the prior matchup, it was the Chiefs starting rotation that set the tone each day.

Quinn Mathews was unbelievably good twice that week and the good news on that front is that he’s been so lights out that they’ve sent the former Stanford man up to AA Springfield… He began the year in Low-A! Inohan Paniagua and Hancel Rincon combined for 11 shutout innings with 15 Ks in their starts and are both still with Peoria. We didn’t get to see much of Pete Hansen thanks to rain suspending his start, and the Cubs did manage four runs off Brycen Mautz in his Saturday start.

Meanwhile the Cubs are off to a great start to the second half and trying to keep the ball rolling back at home during a real tough stretch where this will be their only 3 home games over the course of three-and-a-half weeks.

Parker Chavers still has the longest active on-base streak at 23 games, during which he’s batting .372 with a .961 OPS. Chavers got hot at Fort Wayne a month ago and just has been a model of consistency ever since. When Brett Bateman went down with an injury, Chavers got more playing time and never slowed, now his role will be more geared toward again playing most days after the Cubs promoted Felix Stevens to AA Tennessee last week. The Coastal Carolina man is smacking base hits all over the park, picking up a triple and a homer last Tuesday at Wisconsin when he drove in season-high-tying four runs. Chavers hit .438 against the Chiefs, going 7-for-16 in four games.

The back end of the bullpen seems to get significantly better month-to-month and Jose Romero has been a key reason for their recent success. Going back to May 24 the righty-hander with a nasty slider is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA despite allowing two runs in the series opener last week at Wisconsin. Last year in Myrtle Beach across 28 relief appearances his ERA was just 2.77, and he was the second most utilized man out of the Pelicans bullpen. That slider can bring out some of the most uncomfortable looking swings we’ve seen all year, and you pair it with his mid 90s fastball and it can be a lethal combo.

Schedule and rotation…

Monday, July 1 - 7:05 ET - gates open at 6 ET - RHP Erian Rodriguez vs LHP Pete Hansen

Tuesday, July 2 - 7:05 ET - gates open at 6 ET - RHP Nick Dean vs RHP Darlin Saladin

Wednesday, July 3 - 5:45 ET - gates open at 4:45 ET - RHP Tyler Schlaffer vs RHP Hanel Rincon

Thursday, July 4 - 7:05 ET (at Peoria) - RHP Sam Armstrong vs LHP Brycen Mautz

Friday, July 5 - 8:05 ET (at Peoria) - RHP Will Sanders vs RHP Inohan Paniagua

Saturday, July 6 - 8:05 ET (at Peoria) - LHP Drew Gray vs LHP Pete Hansen