With their loss yesterday, the Chicago Cubs fell to 1-4 over their last five games. Chicago still has a chance to win or split the series with the Nationals if they can find their way into the win column over the next two games, and we’ll be previewing today’s game before going over my play for the first five innings.
The Cubs got a quality start from Hayden Wesneski yesterday, as he allowed just one run over six innings. The right-hander kept them in the game, and in the top of the seventh, he was taken off the hook for a loss when Patrick Wisdom clubbed his tenth homer of the year. That tie would not last long, though, as Keegan Thompson let up three runs in the bottom of the inning, which put the game out of reach for the Cubs, who left 22 runners on base yesterday.
Chicago gets another opportunity to get themselves out of this losing skid today, and they will have their number one starter Marcus Stroman on the mound. In 35.3 innings, Stroman has pitched to a 2.29 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 13 walks. The righty pitched against another NL East team in his last start in the Miami Marlins, as he went 6 ⅓ innings with three strikeouts and two earned runs allowed.
Stroman will take on a Nationals lineup that, despite their win yesterday, is still 26th in hard hit percentage and OPS+ while also being right at the league average line in BAbip. Washington got a big day at the plate yesterday from C.J. Abrams, who went 3-3 and picked up his 13th RBI of the season.
Getting the start for the Nationals will be Jake Irvin, who will make his MLB debut today. The 26-year-old had been pitching in Triple-A up to this point, and in five starts this season, he threw 22.1 innings with 20 strikeouts and a 5.64 ERA. Irvin is the Nationals' 20th ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline and will face a Cubs lineup today that, despite their recent struggles, is still second in the MLB in BAbip.
The Cubs F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-129), and I’ll be taking that as my play in this one. Washington is 22nd in the league in average runs scored during the first five innings, and they are also hitting .234 against righties with a .626 OPS. Washington throwing a rookie making his debut leaves a lot unknown, but with the way Marcus Stroman has been pitching this season, the Cubs still have the advantage on the mound.
Stroman is in the 93rd percentile in barrel percentage, 67th percentile in expected slugging, and is currently well below the league average in WOBA at (.257). In two starts on the road this season, Stroman has pitched to a 1.46 ERA, allowing just two earned runs across 12 ⅓ innings.
We’ll be looking at Triple-A numbers for Irvin, but regardless he faces a Cubs lineup that is hitting .294 in road games this season and 9th in average runs scored in the first five innings. It’s undetermined how long Irvin will pitch today, but in his five starts in Triple-A, his ERA in the second inning was 5.40, and his ERA in the third was 9.64. Chicago may not be playing their best, but I still trust their veteran starter and lineup in this one.
Chicago Cubs F5 (-.5)(-129)