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Diamondbacks vs. Cubs, 2:20 ET
When you get to September, there are essentially three types of games: Potential playoff games or ones with at least playoff implications; ones between two teams that are essentially (or actually) eliminated; and ones between one of each category. In April, there is hope for everyone, even if the reality is that some won’t even sniff the playoffs. Today, we get the first type in a game between the playoff-hopeful Diamondbacks and the Wild Card-holding Cubs.
The Diamondbacks were one of my sleeper teams earlier in the season, but at this point I don’t think you can really consider them a sleeper any longer. They had a very strong first half of the season and sat in first place in their division at the All-Star Break. The Dodgers pulled away from them and they were hotter than any team in baseball, but it coincided with the Diamondbacks not playing well. That put them in a hole where it looked like they might not be able to play playoff ball. They then turned it around yet again and are now in the hunt for the final spot. This series is big and they started it off on the right foot with a win over the Cubs last night. Today, they get their ace and a Cy Young candidate, Zac Gallen, on the hill. Gallen has been solid this year, but in reality most of his success has come as a home starter. His home ERA is 2.18 (increased a bit as he allowed five earned at home in his last outing) and his road ERA is 4.81. There is no question he has incredible stuff and goes on these insane scoreless inning streaks, but that hasn’t happened much since the beginning of the season. He does have a quality start in four of his past five road starts, so perhaps the road ERA is a bit misleading.
The Cubs had a decision to make at the trade deadline. Do they decide to trade away Cody Bellinger, easily their best player this season and probably the best chip on the market, or do they decide to keep him (and Marcus Stroman)? The answer, as you may guess, was to keep them both. Stroman has been injured basically since the deadline, but Bellinger continues to mash the ball and increase his offseason value on the open market. The Cubs have their eyes on bigger things though as they are in control of their own destiny right now and look to play some playoff baseball. They can strengthen their hold on the Wild Card with some wins over the Diamondbacks. Unfortunately for them, they have arguably their least reliable pitcher, Jameson Taillon, taking the ball today. Taillon has a 5.73 ERA overall and has only been able to eat up 127.1 innings for the Cubs as he gets knocked out of games rather early. Many pitchers struggle in their first year with the Cubs, but this has been pretty ugly. Diamondback hitters are also pretty solid against him.
I don’t think this is a lock for the Cubs to win, and I don’t think it is a lock for the Diamondbacks to win. Looking at the line for the game, the Diamondbacks are slight favorites, and they probably should be. They do have the better pitcher. However, what really stood out to me is that the total is just 7.5. I feel like Taillon can allow eight runs by himself. Plus we get Gallen at his more susceptible setting. I’ll take the over in this game.
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