The Miami Marlins host the Chicago Cubs in the finale of their three-game series from Marlins Park in Florida. The Cubs have fallen on nothing but hard time over the last few week, which isn’t necessarily a surprise given the pieces they sent from town. The Marlins have never really been able to get things going in their own right after last seasons success in the postseason at Wrigley Field. With both teams having little to play for, it’s been an interesting first two games of the series and Sunday could go either way. Regardless of the outlook of the next six weeks, both teams will be desperate for their youngsters to gain valuable experience at a Major League level.
Cubs Reeling Down The StretchThe Cubs have been one of the worst teams in baseball since the All-Star break, having now lost ten games in a row. The trade deadline seemed to take a lot out of this team, especially given that they shipped their three most prominent offensive threats out of town. They have a strong case for being the worst team in baseball as of now and it seems that they have essentially given up on the season. The strong offensive threats that they have remaining are mostly dealing with injuries themselves. Wilson Contreras (knee), Jason Heyward (finger), and Nico Hoerner (oblique), all remain out through game three. From a pitching perspective, they remain down some key relievers and Adbert Alzolay (hamstring) was just added to the IL as well.
Their offense wasn't great even with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez, and they rank 22nd in runs per game, 28th in batting average, and 27th in hits per game. While they rank 12th in home runs per game, a majority of those came from the three traded players and this offense looks quite a bit different than even just a few weeks ago. Over the last week, it has been Frank Schwindel leading the way, hitting .429 with two home runs. Rafael Ortega is just ahead of him hitting .450. While their strong week has been great, the veterans left in the lineup have struggled and unless that changes, the Cubs will continue to struggle.
According to MLB.com, Alec Mills will get the start for the Cubs. The righty has been one of the better starters for the Cubs on the season, which is a sad indictment more than good news for Mills. The righty enters with a 5-4 record and 4.27 ERA and is one of the few players to have already started against Miami this season. Back on June 20th, he took the win, pitching a shutout across five innings, allowing six hits. Mills hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start this season and will at least be able to keep Chicago close through the first half of the game.
Marlins Gaining ExperienceThe Marlins have had great luck against the Cubs over the last few years, with last fall's postseason triumph being the most notable set of wins. After winning Friday and Saturday though, the Marlins have their eyes set on a series sweep and for their youngsters to get that feeling under their belt before the season ends. It won't be easy though, as the Marlins were similar to the Cubs in regards to their mindset at the trade deadline, selling some key pieces. The Marlins are also playing without at least three starting position players, as Jon Berti (concussion), Garrett Cooper (elbow), and Joe Panik (undisclosed), all remain out, likely into the fall. The pitching has been Miami's strong suit all season but even that appears to be in flux given they have five starters on the IL.
Miami's offense isn't too different than that of the Cubs. They rank 27th in runs per game, 18th in batting average, and 20th in hits per game. Unfortunately, they rank 28th in home runs per game, though that hasn't been their style over the last few years. Miguel Rojas is playing some of the best baseball of his life over the last week, hitting .391. Lewis Brinson has been a pleasant addition to more consistent playing time, hitting three home runs and hitting .545 over the last week. Add that to the slugger, Jesus Aguilar, hitting two home runs and .300 over the last week and countless others hitting above .250, and it quickly becomes apparent that the Cubs might not have enough to keep up with what Miami has been capable of late.
According to MLB.com, the Marlins are yet to announce a starter for the second straight night. Key members of the rotation remain out and it has hurt what was once Miami's pride and joy. Miami ranks 1th in opponent runs per game but was ranked much higher just a month ago, while their bullpen is ranked in the top half of baseball. With the Cubs' offense having little value or experience, it should be a great night for Miami to experiment with the starter.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cubs have lost ten games in a row and until they regain their consistency, it's difficult to put much faith in them to turn things around. The Marlins, on the other hand, have an offense that is clicking from the top to the bottom, as compared to a Chicago lineup that has a few guys hitting above .400 but besides that, it's a batting order of guys struggling to hit .200. The Marlins have one of the best rotations in baseball and will be a huge help to have the committee take care of Sunday's game much like Saturday's game. Expect Chicago's struggles on both sides to continue while the Marlins offense continues to thrive with the Cubs just unable to keep up.
Full-Game Total Pick
Mills was strong for Chicago in his first start against Miami on the season and while he won't get shelled, he'll give up runs for sure. The Marlins offense is starting to click, albeit too little too late, but they will be able to score some runs. For the Cubs, they have some of their own youngsters flashing the long ball over the last week. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Chicago, the over is 3-0-1 in their last four games overall and in their last four games on games. For Miami, the over is 7-0 in their last seven games against a right-handed starter, is 4-0 in their last four home games against a right-handed starter, and is 6-0 in their last six games against a team with a losing record.