With a six-game road win streak on the line, the Philadelphia Phillies are traveling to legendary Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs. The hosts themselves are coming off of a unique road trip to London, so we’ll have to see exactly how they settle back into home. Let’s take a look at the odds for this NL matchup, where my prediction is a Phillies win.
Phillies Vs. Cubs Prediction
The Cubs’ weekend in London wasn’t quite as high-scoring as many might have imagined, following the fireworks display put on by the Yankees and Red Sox in their trip across the pond 2 years ago. Even so, it was an entertaining weekend, featuring one blowout win and a very competitive loss against the rival Cardinals.
The Phillies also spent their weekend locked in a divisional matchup, albeit in a much more conventional setting. They hosted a floundering Mets team, and took 2 out of 3 games for an important series win.
We’re getting to the part of the season where the league begins to truly stratify. If you had a rough start, it’s time to shake it off, and prove that you’re a contender. Both of these teams had preseason aspirations of competing in their division- or more, in the case of the defending NL champ Phillies- but have gotten off to mediocre starts. If either one is going to make a run, they need to get going soon, and this midweek series is a great opportunity to seize some momentum.
The Cubs are at a few disadvantages on Tuesday. One of course is that they’re coming off of baseball’s weirdest possible in-season road trip, and let me tell you, that jet lag is no joke. These guys are professionals, but it would be understandable if a few Cubs were just a touch below their best as they readjust. The other issue is Jameson Taillon; what success the Cubs have had has been largely driven by strong pitching, and Taillon has simply not been a part of that trend.
Meanwhile, Ranger Suárez has shaken off a really tough May to throw an excellent June thus far, with an ERA just over 1.00 for the month. With the starting pitching matchup we’ve been given, it’s pretty hard to pick against the Phillies, and I’d even consider them to cover a spread of -1.5. For the total, I think Taillon could get hit pretty hard, while the Cubs righties should find a run or two against Suarez, and do some damage against the bullpen, so I’m going with the over.
Phillies Vs. Cubs Prediction: Phillies ML (-125), o8.5 (-120)
Phillies Vs. Cubs Odds
The visiting Phillies are narrowly favored at -130, while the Cubs are +110 underdogs at home. The over/under for the game is 8.5 with the over slightly juiced at -120 odds.
Phillies Vs. Cubs Key Matchups
Jameson Taillon Vs. Power Lefties
Last time I covered a Taillon start, I wrote that he has struggled with contact hitters more than power. Well, since then he’s given up 5 home runs in 3 appearances, so now let’s take a look at some Phillies hitters who can put it out of the park, with a focus on left-handers, a group that has absolutely crushed Taillon.
Let’s start with a lefty who is theoretically powerful, but hasn’t been this season, 2-time MVP Bryce Harper. He’s struggled to hit for power since coming back from injury, as he only has 3 bombs in 45 games. Taking a look at his Statcast percentiles shows us a bit of what’s going on. His average exit velocity is down- it’s 78th percentile compared to 92nd a year ago and his barrel rate is 83rd percentile, compared to 97 percent in both of his MVP seasons.
Then there’s Kyle Schwarber, who has hit for power but not much else. His 20 home runs are 6th in the MLB thus far, but his batting average of .181 is the second-worst of all qualified hitters. He is walking a lot, with an OBP of .324, but his main value comes from hitting the ball far. These two hitters, paired with a deep lineup featuring more contact-oriented bats, can definitely get after Taillon, and are a major reason I have their team hitting their -130 moneyline in my Phillies vs. Cubs prediction.
Ranger Suárez vs Potentially All Righties
Although the sample size is relatively small (37 PA), left-handed bats have done just about nothing against the southpaw Suárez (.395 OPS). Righties aren’t necessarily crushing him, but it’s been a lot better for them.
For this reason I’m expecting Cody Bellinger and Mike Tauchman, both of whom are having a rough week anyhow, to get the day off. Either could serve as an important pinch hitter later against a righty reliever, but Suárez would be a tough matchup for either one.
Switch hitter Ian Happ will of course stay in the lineup, but he definitely prefers to face righties and hit lefty so this could be a tougher one for him. One of the key righties is Christopher Morel, who has cooled off a good bit as of late but has still been easily the Cubs’ best bat overall this season.
Newcomer Dansby Swanson is also off to a nice start, his traditional numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but he’s already up to 3 WAR on the season. These bats are just a few solid contributors out of many in a well-rounded and potentially all-righty Cubs lineup. I don’t think they’ll take the win from Suárez in his current excellent form, but I believe they can get involved enough to push the run total over 8.5.
Phillies Vs. Cubs Starting Lineups
Phillies Starting Lineup
LF K. Schwarber L
SS T. Turner R
RF N. Castellanos R
DH B. Harper L
C J. Realmuto R
2B B. Stott L
1B A. Bohm R
CF B. Marsh L
3B E. Sosa R
Cubs Starting Lineup
2B N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
CF C. Morel R
SS D. Swanson R
LF I. Happ S
1B T. Mancini R
DH M. Amaya R
3B N. Madrigal R
C Y. Gomes R