Miami Marlins (24-33) @ Chicago Cubs (30-27)
Start Time: 01:05 BST
After a tortoise like start to the 2017 season the World Champion Chicago Cubs have found their groove in recent weeks. Manager Joe Maddon has rarely failed to press the right buttons with this ball club, but the hangover from a historic World Series win was sure to test this young team. After a recent torrid west coast road trip the Cubs have bounced back nicely in recent times and have put together a 5 game win streak. The Cubs bats have been hot of late with 28 Long balls in 14 games. The Cubs pitching has also been pretty lights out in the past week allowing 6 hits or fewer in their last 6 games. The return of closer Wade Davis from parental leave should also help shore up any potential cracks in the back end of the bullpen.
Fresh from a 10-2 thumping to the Cubbies last night, the Marlins would seemingly rather be anywhere else other than Wrigley right now. The Miami club have struggled on both sides of the ball this year, most notably failing to nail down a starting pitching ace. The tragic loss of superstar Jose Fernandez to a boating accident in the offseason has left a major void in their starting rotation. In particular the Marlins have struggled away from Miami giving up an average of 5.19 runs on the road.
Just like his fellow starters in Miami Jose Urena has struggled of late. The 25 year old from the Dominican Republic got beaten up in his last outing, as the Diamondbacks chased him off in less than 5 innings tacking on 5 runs in the process. Urena was saved the loss on his record as the Marlins rallied to a 7-5 victory. The right hander has a solitary losing start vs the Cubs back in 2015 with a 4.50 ERA. Worryingly for Miami, Urena has been giving up more walks than usual of late and you can be sure the patient Cubs hitters will be more than capable of exploiting this if the opportunities arrive.
Ever volatile Cubs pitcher John Lackey could finally crack a smile last Friday, as he held the Cardinals 2 runs and 4 hits in 7 innings work. Lackey is winless in his last 3 games but Joe Maddon will be happy with the Texan’s last outing. Prior to this Lackey’s last quality start was back on May 9th. The 38 year old has given up 14 runs in 11 starts this year, a timely return to form will be a much needed tonic in an already formidable starting rotation.
Without Home Run leader Justin Bour (10 day DL – left ankle) the Marlins will look to slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton to keep the line moving. Batting in the no.2 hole of late has not perturbed Stanton in any meaningful way, and he is in the midst of a 9 game hitting streak going 12-30 in the process. Cubs pitcher John Lackey will have to be on his game tonight to keep Giancarlo in check. Stanton has hit some rockets this year and a key factor may be what way the wind is blowing in Chicago tonight. If the weather gods decide to have it blowing out to centre field prepare for Stanton to go long at least once.
It speaks highly of the talents of Kris Bryant that 13 Home Run, 38 RBI’s with a .273 average through the first week of June is considered a somewhat disappointing season for the All Star third baseman. Such was the nature of his superhuman efforts in 2016, some form of regression was inevitable for Bryant this year. The 25 year old from Nevada has heated up of late though and will fancy his chances of taking advantage of Urena’s patchy form. Across the diamond from Bryant is his fellow all star Anthony Rizzo, a talented slugging first baseman who is a constant nightmare for starting pitchers. Rizzo similar to Bryant rarely gets anything decent to hit but when he does expect great things for the Cubs. Outfielder Jason Heyward notched up 3 hits last night in the Cubs win with 2 RBI’s to boot.
NOTABLE BETTING TRENDS
- Marlins are 7-3 SU in their last 10 overall.
- Marlins are 1-4 SU in their last 5 road games.
- Cubs are 5-0 SU in their last 5 overall.
- Cubs are 5-1 SU in Lackeys last 6 home starts vs. a team with a losing record.
- Over is 4-1 in Urenas last 5 starts overall.
- Over is 18-7-1 in Cubs last 26 home games.
- Over is 5-0-1 in Lackeys last 6 starts after scoring 5 runs or more in their previous game.
- Marlins are 0-7 SU in the last 7 meetings in Chicago.
- Marlins are 0-5 SU in the last 5 meetings.
UMPIRE TRENDS – QUINN WOLCOTT
- Cubs are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games with Wolcott behind home plate.
- Over is 23-9-1 in Wolcotts last 33 games behind home plate.
At the time of writing the Cubs have shortened into 1.51 from opening at 1.54 here at Matchbook. Whilst this is a big price to be giving up with Lackey on the mound, all the signs tonight point to a Cubs victory. Given their hot bats of late and Urena’s erratic control on the mound I am recommending a play on the run line with the Cubs. ie to win by 2 runs or more.
BACK Chicago Cubs -1.5 runs at 2.13 (3pt win)