Chicago Cubs (59-54 SU, 45-68 RL, 52-56-5 O/U) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (64-50 SU, 65-49 RL, 51-57-6 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 8:10 p.m. EST
The Line: Chicago Cubs -125/Arizona +115 Total: 9.5
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs will continue a three-game series when they collide at Chase Field in Arizona on Saturday evening. Chicago was 2-6 in its last eight contests heading into the series opener on Friday. The Diamondbacks had dropped four of their last five games.
Logjam in the NL Central
The Cubs are hoping a day off prior to this series helps them snap out of their funk and build their lead in the National League Central. Chicago has lost two straight and six of its last eight as its division lead has dwindled to one game over St. Louis (two ahead of Milwaukee, which led throughout the first half). The slide began at the beginning of the month, when the Cubs dropped the last two contests of their three-game home set against the Diamondbacks. Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras (hamstring) underwent an MRI exam on Thursday and could be sidelined for several weeks.
Left-hander Jon Lester is taking the mound for Chicago on Saturday. Lester is 8-6 with a 3.97 ERA so far this season. His ERA was as high as 4.25 on July 17 after giving up 10 runs (four earned) in 0.2 innings against Pittsburgh. Four of Lester’s five starts since that outing have been quality, including a 6.2-inning performance last Sunday during a 9-4 loss to Washington (three runs allowed on six hits and one walk).
Rare hitless day for Goldschmidt
Arizona also is slumping as it has lost two in a row and four of its last five after dropping an 8-6 decision at home to the Dodgers on Thursday. J.D. Martinez belted his seventh home run in 18 games with the Diamondbacks. Paul Goldschmidt, who registered his first career three-homer effort at Chicago on Aug. 3, saw his his six-game hitting streak end by going 0-for-5. Still, Goldschmidt is batting .318 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs to put himself in the 2017 NL MVP discussion. Diamondbacks’ catcher Chris Iannetta has homered in each of his last two contests.
Patrick Corbin will oppose Lester on Saturday. The left-hander is 8-11 with a 4.76 ERA through 23 starts this year. Corbin most recently faced San Francisco last Sunday, when he went six innings and surrendered six runs (three earned) on seven hits and two talks in a 6-3 victory.
The Chicago Cubs are:
- 12-3 in their last 15 road games
- 36-16 in Lester’s last 52 starts
- 5-0 in Lester’s last five road starts
The Arizona Diamondbacks are:
- 1-4 in their last five overall
- 1-9 in their last 10 games that are the second in a series
- 2-6 in their last eight games against left-handed starters
Chicago is not playing well at the moment, but it has fared better on the road than at home of late. Moreover, Lester has been in fine form for the most part over the past few months. The Cubs are 12-3 in their last 15 on the road, 36-16 in Lester’s last 52 starts, 5-0 in Lester’s last five road starts, and 9-4 in the last 13 meetings between the two teams. Arizona is 1-4 in its last five overall, 1-9 in its last 10 that are the second in a series, and 2-6 in its last eight against left-handed starters. Expect those trends to continue.