With the NL Central and Wild Card races heating up, the Chicago Cubs can’t afford to drop any games, but that’s just what they did in game one of this four game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The visitors are also in the thick of the same race, so the stakes are high for game two on Friday, so let’s get into the odds for this pivotal clash, where my prediction is for a Diamondbacks win and over 7 runs.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Prediction
It seems that this NL Wild Card race has infinite twists, and won’t be decided until the last day. After failing to close out the Cincinnati Reds and splitting a four game set on their turf, the Cubs came back home and promptly swept the San Francisco Giants, another playoff hopeful. Now, they’ve dropped the first game of this four-game set to Arizona, in which Tommy Pham went yard twice, and prospect Jordan Lawlar made his pro debut. Arizona now sits in the NL’s sixth seed, with just a half-game lead over the Marlins and Reds, and a 2.5-game edge over the Giants.
The Cubs are still three games ahead of Arizona, but fell to a full two games behind the Phillies, for the NL’s fourth seed and home field advantage in a potential Wild Card Series between the two sides, and they’re the same margin behind the Brewers for the NL Central crown.
They’re more likely than not going to the playoffs at this point, after executing an incredible late-July turnaround, but losing games while jostling for seeding, games against a fellow contestant in the playoff race, is not a good habit. It’s worth noting that in addition to the remaining three games in this series, these teams will split up for just a few days and reconvene for three more in Arizona, so they’re about to get very familiar with each other.
With six games left in this marathon of sorts, a major key for both squads will be moving past the first and dialing in for what’s next, starting with Friday’s matchup The Cubs are at home and are the hotter team, but the Diamondbacks have a huge starting pitching advantage with fringe Cy Young contender Zac Gallen squaring off with fringe Major League pitcher Jameson Taillon.
It’s hard to bet against Gallen, but with Taillon on the mound, and a hot Cubs lineup, we absolutely have to take the over with the total set at seven, as low of a number as you’ll see for just about any game. For the result, we won’t bet against him; the Diamondbacks should pull this one out after Taillon puts the Cubs in a hole that is simply too big to overcome against Arizona’s bullpen.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Prediction: Diamondbacks ML (-115), o7 runs (-110)
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Odds
Vegas sees this one as being low-scoring and tight, with -115 moneyline odds for the Diamondbacks compared to -105 for the Cubs, and the run total set at 7.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Key Matchups
Zac Gallen vs. Power Hitters
Gallen has once again been close to Cy Young form this season, but has struggled a good deal with limiting quality of contact. He’s in just the third percentile for average exit velocity allowed, the seventh for hard hit percentage, and the 20th in barrel rate. Curiously enough, these issues haven’t really translated to an elevated home run rate; it’s a bit higher than last year’s stellar total, but long balls are up across the league. He’ll be going up against a Cubs team that ranks ninth in the majors in slugging percentage, but just 14th in home runs.
The star of the show is absolutely Cody Bellinger, who leads the team in both of those categories with marks of .552 and 24, pretty solid totals especially considering the decent amount of time he missed earlier this season. Patrick Wisdom is up next with 21 homers and racked up a .496 slugging percentage, although he doesn’t make it into the lineup on a daily basis.
Christopher Morel is right behind him with totals of 20 and .481, while Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, and Dansby Swanson are all at 16 or more homers. What makes this lineup special is the balance; the Cubs could conceivably have six hitters with 20 or more home runs, plus new addition Jeimer Candelario who has provided a real spark since coming over at the trade deadline. Their ability to compete with an arm like Gallen is a major reason I love the over for a total of 7 runs in my Diamondbacks vs. Cubs prediction.
Jameson Taillon vs. Diamondbacks Lefties
Taillon has struggled in just about every facet of pitching, from the long ball to baserunner reduction, but he’s had an especially hard time with lefties; the gap between his OPS allowed against left-handed and against right-handers is almost 180 points.
The Diamondbacks aren’t a particularly left-handed team, but their best bet and leadoff hitter is a lefty; that would be presumptive NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, who has crushed righties this year to the tune of a .933 OPS. Switch hitter Ketel Marte hits second, and has pretty much no platoon split; he can hit well from both sides. Geraldo Perdomo, however, does prefer to hit as a lefty against righties, with almost a 140-point OPS gap between the two sides.
Youngster Alek Thomas is another lefty who prefers righties, to the point where he’s above league-average against them, but unplayable against fellow southpaws. Lastly, Pavin Smith is much closer to respectable against righties than lefties, helping to round out a lineup full of bats that can absolutely clobber the struggling Taillon.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Starting Lineups
Diamondbacks Starting Lineup
RF C. Carroll L
2B K. Marte S
LF T. Pham R
1B C. Walker R
CF A. Thomas L
C G. Moreno R
DH P. Smith L
SS J. Lawlar R
3B G. Perdomo S
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF M. Tauchman L
2B N. Hoerner R
LF I. Happ S
1B C. Bellinger L
SS D. Swanson R
RF S. Suzuki
3B J. Candelario S
C Y. Gomes R
DH C. Morel R