The Chicago Cubs got out early to a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning on Monday, but that lead quickly evaporated following a 5-run 3rd inning by the Astros. Gerrit Cole settled in after allowing the 2-run shot by Anthony Rizzo, as he fanned 12 hitters to add to his MLB lead in the strikeout department. That would be the only runs that Cole would allow in his Memorial Day effort. He would also give up just 3 hits on the afternoon.
The Cubs were able to make it interesting late against the Astros’ bullpen, though. They tacked on 2 runs in the top of the 9th against Roberto Osuna. Osuna was shaky against the Red Sox in an appearance over the weekend as well, but the Astros ultimately responded at the plate. He had some breathing room with a 3-run lead, so Osuna averts a near disaster again. Osuna was flawless before running into recent issues.
Houston lost the series finale against the Red Sox by a score of 4-1 on Sunday, but were winners in two of three games. With the W on Monday, the Astros moved to 36-19 on the season. They have a healthy 6.5-game lead on the Athletics in the AL West. I don’t think there’s an equal match for the Astros this season in the division. They can take a nap and likely still clinch the AL West.
The Cubs are going to be in a battle with the Brewers and maybe another team or two in the NL Central. While 6.5 games separates 2nd from 1st in the AL West, that’s the distance between last and 1st in the NL Central. The Cardinals and Reds are in the back, but they could still get something going in the second-half for a strong push.
The Cubs will go with Jon Lester to get them back in the win column Tuesday. Lester has been struggling and way off in his last two outings. Otherwise, he’s been a sharp pitcher for the Cubs on the bump this season. We’ll see if he can revert back to earlier form. Rookie Corbin Martin will counter for the ‘Stros. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Astros pick.
Chicago Cubs vs. Houston Astros Pick:
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Corbin Martin has had no time for a warmup to get his major league career underway. He’s been thrust into the starting rotation after Collin McHugh went back to the bullpen. Compared to last season, the pitching depth on the Astros isn’t as strong. Dallas Keuchel is still looking for a team to pay him his contract demands, while Charlie Morton opted for a better contract in Tampa with the Rays.
An injury to their rotation could be devastating, so they are walking a tightrope compared to all of the options they had last season. With a record of 36-19, it clearly hasn’t made much of an impact, at least not yet.
The Astros need to see Martin snap into form. He is coming off a less than ideal start against the White Sox, as he surrendered 6 hits and 3 earned runs in 3.1 innings. Martin got away with some erratic pitching against the Red Sox in a start prior to that, as he yielded 4 walks and 5 hits in 4 innings.
Fortunately for him the Red Sox tagged him for just 2 earned runs, so his numbers didn’t feel the crunch. Martin enters Tuesday with an ERA of 5.19 and 1.27 WHIP at home in 2019. There can be growing pains for a lot of rookie pitchers and we should expect to continue to see up and down production from Martin.
Lester was way up in his first seven starts of the 2019 season. However, his last two outings have been on shaky ground. Lester gave up 5 earned runs in 4.1 innings against the Nationals and 4 against the Phillies in 4 innings. Prior to that stretch, Lester hadn’t allowed a run in 19.2 innings of work.
Power numbers have been down for the Astros against Lester. They have failed to hit a home run against him in 63 at-bats. Additionally, the ‘Stros have notched just 1-run in that time. Michael Brantley is the only hitter on the roster with an RBI on Lester. As an underdog, I’m willing to take a shot on Lester bouncing back and the Cubs taking care of the rookie hurler for Houston in this contest.