Normally the Chicago Cubs are regarded as a poor team on the road. They bucked that notion on Friday night, as they put up 8 runs and dismantled the Arizona Diamondbacks in a win at Chase Field.
The victory was just Chicago’s 4th in their last 10 games, but it still showed off the team’s power as they cling to first place in the NL Central. The Cubs walk back into Chase Field tonight with eyes on another win and Vegas is slightly backing them, with top MLB betting sites like Bovada handing them a -115 line as the favorites.
Arizona will surely have something to say about that, of course. The D’Backs have dropped three straight and are just 4-6 over their last 10 games, themselves, but they’ve made a living (37-21) getting wins at their home park in 2017.
While that puts us on high alert in a tightly drawn game, this park should give way to fireworks, one way or the other. The big question is if Jon Lester (8-6, 3.97 ERA) or Patrick Corbin (8-11, 4.76 ERA). Let’s take a closer look to find out as we gauge which bet is best for tonight’s huge showdown:
It’s very hard to go against Vegas in this spot. Arizona cruises at home typically and the Cubs can have problems on the road, but if you take Arizona you’re betting against Lester and a Cubs offense that wrecks southpaws.
Lester isn’t normally a great guy to bet against. He does get a bad park downgrade and he faced Arizona a week ago, but nothing from that showdown (9 strikeouts, 3 earned runs) suggests he’s in for an implosion.
In fact, we’ve seen Lester in solid form lately. The 33-year old lefty has avoided cratering in any of his last five starts, allowing just 11 runs over that span, while striking out 36 batters.
Lester is in a solid groove and while he loses a bit of his reliability when out on the road, he draws a positive matchup against a D’Backs lineup that ranks 28th in batting average when facing southpaws. Arizona is inside the top-15 for power and that could spell trouble in this park, but on paper we don’t have much reason to run and hide from backing Lester.
Another big reason is Corbin. Corbin can be a solid pitcher and he’s actually normally at his best (6-3, 3.14) in this ballpark, but Chicago is not an easy matchup. Unlike Arizona, the Cubs rake lefties in all avenues, ranking 9th in batting average and 4th in home runs.
Chicago sees a bad park shift defensively, but they get a big lift offensively. The other main issue for Corbin is he struggles with power – particularly on the right side of the plate. A whopping 16 of his 22 homers given up on the year have come against right-handed hitters, which puts Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist on high alert for a long ball in this game.
Recent form should have us looking to bet against Corbin, as well. The 28-year old lefty gave up 7 runs two starts ago against this very Cubs team – and that was at Wrigley Field. I don’t expect a perfect game out of Lester, but he should be better than Corbin, who Chicago could end up getting to early.
The park and power on both sides puts the Over very much in play, but I see nothing wrong with just backing the Cubs, straight up.