The Chicago Cubs head to Arizona Monday for game one of a three-game series with the Diamondbacks. The Cubs are clinging to a two and a half game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the National League Central division crown and would love to knock a pesky DBacks team right out of the playoff conversation with a series win. The Cubs have won three out of their last four games.
For Arizona, the DBacks are at risk of seeing their season end prematurely. They have spent more time in first place than any other team in the National League West Division this season, but now with just a handful of games left on the schedule, they find themselves in third place in the division, four and a half games back of the first place Colorado Rockies. The DBacks are just 4-11 in the month of September, and if they were to get swept in this series, it would pretty much put them out of playoff contention.
Starting for the DBacks tonight is Patrick Corbin (11-5 3.05 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Kyle Hendricks (11-11 3.71 ERA). The DBacks are -133 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Arizona.
The Chicago Cubs have mostly been treading water for the last month or so. They have seen what was once a fairly significant lead in their division shrink to just a couple of games and are at risk of losing out on the division title. And it’s not that they have been terrible, they finished out August winning eight out of their last ten games, its just that they seem to content with just doing OK here in September. This month they are 8-7, including dropping two series to the Brewers to make this a much tighter race down the stretch than many thought it would be.
One guy that is seemingly really starting to dial it in right now for the Cubs has been Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks has allowed two runs or fewer in six out of his last seven starts, and the Cubs have won seven out of his last nine starts. Hendricks was a little shaky early in the year but is starting to look a lot more like the guy we thought he was coming into the season that had a career ERA in the low three-run range.
Arizona will start Patrick Corbin tonight looking to turn things around. Corbin has been great all season long and has been one of the best strikeout artists in the National League this season. Corbin’s 230 punchouts are third-most in the league, trailing only Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, and ahead of guys like Aaron Nola and Zack Greinke. His 3.05 ERA is seventh among qualified starters this year.
Corbin is another guy that is pitching his best right now as he hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last eight starts. He has one starts against Chicago this year, and he pitched very well. On July 23rd he pitched seven innings of one-run ball and struck out nine.
This is another very close game between two teams that badly need the win. To me, the starting pitching matchup clearly favors the DBacks. Hendricks has been great recently, but it is hard to say that he has been as good as Patrick Corbin this season. Advantage DBacks on that for sure.
But when I look at the big picture in this one, something tells me the DBacks are going to struggle. Arizona has been forced to play some of the best teams in all of baseball this month, and they have fallen flat on their face. They got embarrassed by the Dodgers as they lost three straight games to walk-offs in a series they could ill afford to lose. And since then they looked like a broken team. They have since dropped series to the Atlanta Braves, the Colorado Rockies, and the Houston Astros.
And yeah, those are some great teams. But as the playoffs are just around the corner, these are the types of teams you are going to need to be able to beat to advance, and the DBacks just haven’t been able to get the job done. Things aren’t getting any easier in this series, as despite the Cubs mediocre results in the last two weeks, this is still the team with the best record in the NL.
And I expect the DBacks to come up short in this series as well. I hate to bet against a guy as good as Patrick Corbin, but this Arizona team has shown that they just aren’t ready for primetime this season. They had their shot, and they blew it, and I expect them to be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Give me the Chicago Cubs as road underdogs tonight in game one at +123!