By: Nate McMullen
Hey everybody! Let me interrupt your regularly scheduled programming by filling in for Hector today. Like every remaining game on the Cubs’ schedule, today’s a big one as they strive to stay afloat in the NL Wild Card and the Central. With the rest of the pack closing in and seven games against St. Louis on the horizon, the Cubs need to capitalize in San Diego.
Line: Cubs -133, Padres +123
Spread: Cubs -1.5 (+125), Padres +1.5 (-140)
O/U: 8 (O -110, U -120)
First Pitch: 3:40 PM EDT, Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Chicago Cubs: Like I said above, the Cubs need this game. Chicago, as of Wednesday evening, are 4.0 games behind the Cardinals in the division and only 1.0 game over the streaking Brewers. Fortunately for them, Chicago has gotten a huge boost from recent callup Nico Hoerner. In his debut, Hoerner went 3-for-5 with a triple and four RBIs. The Cubs are desperate for a Javy Baez/Russel Addison replacement, and Hoerner looks like the right substitute for the September stretch. Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber have each hit two dingers in the last week, so look for some fireworks from the Chicago dugout in this series finale.
Yu Darvish (5-6, 4.12 ERA) has got some ugly numbers, but they don’t do his performance justice. Darvish is 2-2 with 58 strikeouts, a 2.98 ERA, and an incredible 0.85 WHIP in his last seven starts. He’s coming into form just when Chicago needs him, and he’ll look to stay dominant against a down Padres lineup.
San Diego Padres: At 67-77, the Padres are nothing spectacular. Their -71-run differential is fifth worst in the National League, and their 34-39 home record isn’t pretty. However, they’ve got some sneaker spoiler potential in that lineup. Wil Myers has been on an absolute tear over the last week, hitting .476 with two homers and a stolen base. However, he is the lone hot hitter of the big Padres names: Manny Machado (.182 average), Manuel Margot (.167), and Eric Hosmer (.136) are all struggling. It won’t be easy to break their slumps against a streaking Darvish.
Dinelson Lamet (2-4, 3.95 ERA) doesn’t have the prettiest numbers, but he’s been effective recently. Just over two months returned from Tommy John, Lamet put up a 3.54 ERA in August and allowed only one earned run through six innings in his last start in Colorado. This hard-throwing fastballer looks to continue his upward trend against a fighting Cubs squad.
Analysis and Prediction: With Yu Darvish throwing the way he is, good luck. I saw an article recently claiming that Darvish has ten (10) pitches in his arsenal. How does anybody hit that? The Friars’ offense is flailing, so that won’t help their cause either. The Cubs hit righties fairly well—.256/.334/.460 slash line—so they shouldn’t have too much trouble with Lamet. Pick the Cubs and Darvish to win the series finale and stay steady in the second Wild Card spot.