Series preview: Cubs at Diamondbacks

The second half of the Chicago Cubs (40-54) season begins in Phoenix where they open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks (40-56) on Friday night.

Friday: Edwin Jackson (5-10, 5.64) vs. Trevor Cahill (1-6, 5.66), 8:40 p.m.

Saturday: Travis Wood (7-8, 4.96) vs. Wade Miley (5-6, 4.18), 7:10 p.m.

Sunday: Jake Arrieta (5-1, 1.95) vs. Josh Collmenter (7-5, 3.80), 3:10 p.m.

The pitching: On the mound this weekend it's all about Wood turning his season around and Arrieta keeping his going. The latter has been lights out over the past six weeks with an ERA among the best, if he qualified with enough innings pitched. As for Friday's starter, righting the ship for Jackson isn't necessarily something many are expecting but eating a few more innings would be nice. He's averaging less than six innings per start this season, and with a young bullpen, along with some rookie starters, he'll need to stay in the game longer to save some arms.

Alcantara watch: Rookie Arismendy Alcantara has been nothing short of impressive in five games. He might become the first player to win a permanent job due to a paternity leave. Darwin Barney left the team for two days last week and while Alcantara went 0-for-4 in his debut, he's 9-for-19 since with five extra base hits. It prompted the Cubs to keep him around even after Barney returned. The Cubs will need to make some roster decisions by the time they return home next Tuesday. It would be a surprise if Alcantara wasn't the beneficiary of them.