The San Diego Padres head into Chicago for a weekend of baseball at Wrigley against the Cubs. They enter their four-game series against the Cubs limping towards the finish line. Some Padres would gladly just throw up the white flag now and go into the offseason. However, the next two months should be valuable learning experiences for the youth in San Diego. Like with most teams who are out of the postseason picture, they use September in particular to give some guys some experience.
It’s like a preseason NFL game for some clubs, as they take a look at what they might have for the following season. That means it’s important to keep an eye on what teams like the Padres are doing with their lineup towards the end of August and throughout September. With that said, it’s important for the young guys involved in the games.
Needless to say, that will not be the Cubs’ game plan moving forward. The Cubs have higher aspirations in 2018. They’re currently in a deadlock with the Brewers for 1st in the NL Central. Milwaukee stumbled at bit before the break and the Cubs were able to use it to get atop the division. Everything has evened out as we go into the weekend. The Brewers have a tricky series against the Rockies this weekend.
The Cubs clearly have the easier schedule here, so if everything goes according to the odds, they will come out with the lead. That’s why they play the games, though. The Cubs will send out Mike Montgomery to the hump on Thursday night. He’s been an okay fill-in for Yu Darvish, but Yu pitching at full-strength this season would have likely had the Cubs in 1st. Cole Hamels made a stellar debut with the Cubs on Wednesday, so he will give them a huge lift if he can stay the course. Reliever Robbie Erlin will get a spot start for the Padres to counter Montgomery. Get our free Padres vs. Cubs pick below.
San Diego Padres vs. Chicago Cubs Pick
Robbie Erlin (1-3, 3.47 ERA) vs. Mike Montgomery (3-4, 4.03 ERA)
Robbie Erlin has been a fixture in the Padres’ bullpen, but he hasn’t gotten many chances to start. There is a reason for that. Erlin has looked good coming in out of the bullpen, he hasn’t allowed a run in 9.1 innings which came all as a reliever. However, starting a baseball game can be a lot different than operating in a meaningless game from the bullpen.
Meaningless in the sense that a win or less at this point isn’t going to mean much. Ask Sonny Gray what it’s like going from playing in a small market to New York. Changing routine and the mindset of a pitcher can make a difference. Erlin has made two starts in 2018 and they both went astray. He owns a 14.14 ERA, 2.29 WHIP, and .432 OBA in two outings which consisted of 7 innings of work.
Erlin made 11 starts in 2014, the most in his career and he finished with a below average ERA of 4.99. With an offense that ranks 29th in the majors with 2.68 runs per game, it’s always a struggle to win games as a pitcher in San Diego.
Montgomery has posted an ERA of 4.03 in 2018. He was flying earlier this season, but he has come back to earth a bit recently. Montgomery has a 5.62 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in his previous three outings. He is coming off a rough start against the Cardinals where he allowed 5 runs. His ERA at Wrigley is not the best at 4.93. However, that comes from shoddy starts earlier this season. Montgomery hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs at home since May 22nd against the Indians. He allowed just 1 run against the Cardinals in his last start at home.
The Cubs pummeled the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. I think they follow it up and they use this weekend to create some separation with the Brewers. Erlin has not shown the ability to perform in a starting role. The Cubs should be well aware who Milwaukee is playing this weekend and it isn’t a creampuff like the Padres. They should see this as an opportunity to pull ahead in the NL Central. I like something in the neighborhood of a 6-2 or 6-3 Cubs win on Thursday evening at historic Wrigley Field.