It’s the start of a series between a pair of NL Central rivals in the Windy City. The Cincinnati Reds are on the road for the first of three games with the weary Chicago Cubs Friday night. Cincinnati took two of three at home from the Dodgers, losing the finale 8-1 Wednesday afternoon. Chicago lost the rubber game of their three-game home set with the Brewers 5-1 Wednesday: they were scheduled to play a makeup game Thursday at Washington. That prompted a time change from 2:20 pm ET to 8:05 pm ET for this one. The Cubs swept a four-game series here the last time the teams met August 23-26.
Cincinnati Reds Looking to Further Slow Cubs
Cincinnati took two of three against the Dodgers though they missed a chance at a season sweep of Los Angeles with the loss Wednesday. The Reds fell to 63-84 with the defeat and entered Thursday 22 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central race. Billy Hamilton was the lone Reds player with two hits in the loss Wednesday while Jose Peraza accounted for their lone run with his 11th homer of the year in the first inning. Anthony DeSclafani (7-5) took the loss on the mound. He allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
Matt Harvey is in line to make his 30th appearance and 26th start overall this season: it’s his 22nd appearance and start for the Reds. He comes in 7-8 with a 4.87 ERA, a 1.313 WHIP, 34 walks and 114 strikeouts over 138.2 innings of work. Harvey earned the win in his last start, which came at home against San Diego Saturday. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts in a 7-2 Reds win. Harvey is 1-1 with a 5.62 ERA, a 1.56 WHIP, three walks and 19 strikeouts over 16 innings in his last three starts. He faces the Cubs for the eighth time in his career in this contest. In those outings, he is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA, a 1.241 WHIP, 10 walks and 38 strikeouts over 38.2 innings of work. Harvey is 1-1 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.291 WHIP, eight walks and 27 strikeouts over 28.2 innings in five career starts at Wrigley Field.
Chicago Cubs Holding On in NL Central Race
Chicago is clearly a fatigued team as they continue this hellacious stretch without a scheduled off day. The Cubs fell to Milwaukee Wednesday to drop to 84-61, leaving them with a one-game lead over the Brewers entering Thursday’s action. Chicago received two hits from Kris Bryant (RBI), who narrowly missed a two-run homer when his double hit the top of the wall. That drove in Tommy La Stella with the lone Chicago run of the contest. Kyle Hendricks (11-11) pitched decently but took the loss due to the lack of offense. He allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five innings of work.
Cole Hamels takes the mound for his 29th start of the season overall and his ninth with the Cubs. He comes in 9-9 with a 3.71 ERA, a 1.273 WHIP, 59 walks and 162 strikeouts over 165 innings of work this season. With the Cubs, he is 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, a 1.046 WHIP, 17 walks and 48 strikeouts over 50.2 innings. Hamels recorded a no-decision in his last start, which came Saturday night on the road against Washington. He threw 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on three hits with five walks and five strikeouts in a game the Cubs eventually dropped 6-5. Hamels has no record with a 2.70 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, nine walks and 18 strikeouts over 16.2 innings in his last three starts. He faces the Reds for the 17th time in his career: he is 11-1 with a 1.86 ERA, a 1.006 WHIP, 36 walks and 104 strikeouts over 111.1 innings of work. Hamels is 4-1 with a 1.45 ERA, a 0.871 WHIP, 12 walks and 64 strikeouts over 62 innings in nine career starts at Wrigley Field.
- Cubs are 4-1 in their last 5 Friday games
- Cubs are 40-12 in their last 52 home games vs. a team with a losing record
- Reds are 3-9 in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning record
- Reds are 0-4 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Chicago, tired as they are, know that this series is important to them as the Brewers are right on their heels. Hamels has been masterful since coming over from Texas at the trade deadline. They could use another stellar start from the lefty, who has owned the Reds in his career. In a game they desperately need, it’s Hamels who leads the way as the tired Cubs start this set off on the right foot.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs -210
Full-Game Total Pick
Harvey, for his less than stellar peripherals, has been pretty effective since coming to the Reds earlier this season. With Cincinnati, he’s 7-6 with a 4.35 ERA and had enough value that the Brewers tried to work a deal for him last month before that fell through. He has pitched well against Chicago this season. The Reds will need everything he can muster against Hamels, who has destroyed Cincinnati in his career. That includes a complete game against them on August 23 in a 7-1 Cubs win. Can Hamels’ continue his dominance of the Reds?
The under is 4-1 in the Reds last 5 games following an off day, 9-4 in their last 13 on the road against teams with a winning record and 5-2 in Harvey’s last seven starts on the road. Chicago has seen the under go 4-0 in their last four on Friday, 4-1 in their last five at home against a right-handed starter, 4-1 in their last five at home, 6-1 in Hamels’ last seven starts on grass and 6-1 in his last seven starts overall. Given the way things have been of late, especially when Hamels is on the hill, this one likely stays under the number.
Prediction: Under 8.5
Full-Game Prop Bet
Chicago should have a little jump in their fatigued legs after winning in Washington Thursday thanks to the heroics of Javier Baez, who homered and drove in three runs. The Cubs know that after this series, they have three games in Arizona before they actually get a day off where they don’t have to worry about going to the ballpark. Harvey has pitched well enough this season for the Reds but the bullpen continues to be a problem for them. Chicago piled up 29 runs in their four game sweep against the Reds here last month. Look for them to go over the number here.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs Over 4.5 -125
First Five Innings Side Pick
In this one, you have to lean toward Chicago. Hamels has been terrific since coming over from Texas to the point where it seems likely that the team will pick up his option for the 2019 season. The Cubs picked up an important 4-3 win in 10 innings Thursday in Washington and was scheduled to fly back to Chicago. Harvey has pitched well against the Cubs this season and had a solid outing in his last outing at Wrigley but Chicago is focused. The Cubs should have the edge after five innings.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs -200
First Five Innings Total Bet
The Cubs have been struggling a bit for runs of late as this ridiculously long stretch of games enters its home stretch. Harvey has helped keep Chicago in check a bit in his starts against them. Hamels has been lights out against the Reds in his entire career and tossed an eight hitter in the Cubs’ 7-1 win against them in his last start vs. Cincinnati. Even if the wind is favorable, I can see this one coming under the number after five innings.
Prediction: Under 4.5 -125
First Five Innings Prop Prediction
Hamels has given up just nine runs in his eight starts with the Cubs and three of those came in his last outing. He was 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, 11 walks and 38 strikeouts over 39 innings in the month of August in six starts. Hamels has a 0.86 ERA over 21 innings in his three starts at Wrigley Field this year. The Cubs know that they need wins to keep their hold on the NL Central lead. With the Reds having nothing to play for, Chicago manages to get on the board first in this contest.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs to Score First -120