The Cubs and Giants are moving in totally different directions heading into Friday’s matchup, but not in the way you’d expect. After winning 108 games last season, the Giants have lost seven straight and fallen below .500 as some fans demand they sell at next week’s trade deadline. The Cubs, as streaky as any team this season, have won six in a row despite trade rumors hovering over the clubhouse. Can this be the series that finally puts the Giants back on track?
Let’s take a look at starting lineups, betting odds, and predictions for Friday’s matchup.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants Betting Odds
Despite the Giants’ struggles, Gabe Kapler’s squad is still favored at -134 on the moneyline with the over/under set at 7.5 runs. The over/under indicates little belief in both offenses, which is understandable considering the Giants’ troubles at the plate and the pitcher-friendly environment. The Cubs may be a solid value at +114. Their winning ways aren’t guaranteed to continue, but there’s reason to believe in Marcus Stroman with the way he’s pitched since coming off the IL.
Chicago Cubs Starting Lineup
CF R. Ortega L
C W. Contreras R
LF I. Happ S
RF S. Suzuki R
SS N. Hoerner R
3B P. Wisdom R
DH F. Schwindel R
1B A. Rivas L
2B C. Morel R
Chicago Cubs vs. Alex Cobb
Underlying numbers indicated Alex Cobb was one of the unluckiest pitchers in baseball over the first 2-3 months of the season, and the luck has finally started to bounce his way again. Cobb has a 4.26 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 15 starts (76 IP) on the year, with a surprisingly strong 2.94 FIP that is more in line with how he pitched in 2021. Cobb has never been the type of pitcher to limit contact, but his K/9 rate has jumped to 9.1 over the last two years and helped him find success in his mid-30s. Cobb has a 2.62 ERA over his last six starts, including a dominant outing against the Brewers just before the all-star break.
By this time next week, the Cubs’ lineup could look much different. Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, and Patrick Wisdom are all trade candidates, with Contreras the most likely to go. The Cubs don’t hit too many home runs to begin with, but it’s worth noting Cobb is among baseball’s best at keeping the ball in the park. It typically takes contact to get to him, which makes Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki two of the key bats he’ll have to be careful with. Hoerner is hitting .364 over his last 28 games, while Suzuki is batting .328 since returning from the IL early in July. The expansive outfield in San Francisco could allow those two, along with Christopher Morel, to find their way onto the basepaths. The Cubs will just have to string together some hits if they want to score runs, unless Cobb has an uncharacteristic day.
San Francisco Giants Starting Lineup
DH T. La Stella L
LF J. Pederson L
2B W. Flores R
1B B. Belt L
RF L. Gonzalez L
SS T. Estrada R
CF M. Yastrzemski L
3B D. Villar R
C J. Bart R
San Francisco Giants vs. Marcus Stroman
Marcus Stroman has had a shaky first season in Chicago, but he’s looked a lot more like himself since he returned from an IL stint earlier this month. Stroman has a 4.38 ERA over 12 starts (61/2 IP) this season, with a fine 3.72 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. Since his return, Stroman has a 1.26 ERA in three starts, including a strong 6-inning outing against the Phillies last week. The 31-year-old is starting to pitch like he did with the Mets, and as he gets further removed from the IL, expect him to start going deeper into games.
The Giants only have 3 home runs over their 7-game losing streak, with a .183 team AVG and very little production out of key hitters Brandon Belt and Joc Pederson. With Brandon Crawford on the IL and Mike Yastrzemski battling through a calf injury, this offensive slump might not be an anomaly. I’m concerned about this offense facing Stroman, who really seems to have settled in with the Cubs now that he’s healthy. This game is at home, so the Giants won’t be benefitting from some of the shallow outfield walls of Wrigley Field to get their bats going. Stroman isn’t a pitcher with a particular weakness. He gives up some hits, but not too many. He doesn’t have the greatest control, but it’s not a problem. If the Giants want to break out of this slump, they’re going to have to simply hit their way out of it against a seasoned pitcher.
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants Picks & Prediction
My pick: Cubs Moneyline (+114)
The Giants have a better chance to break out of this rut when they put Alex Wood on the mound against Justin Steele to open the series Thursday. I like what I’ve seen from Stroman lately, and a matchup with a scuffling offense in a pitcher-friendly park should only help him rediscover what made him successful in 2021. The Cubs’ offense has looked much better with Seiya Suzuki healthy. It’s too bad we probably won’t see him in the lineup with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ for long, but as long as no moves are made by the time this one starts, Chicago should have enough to scrap together some hits – and runs – against Cobb.