The Chicago Cubs decided they would not be selling at the trade deadline, which means they are fully planning to make a run at the wide-open NL Central division. In order to climb their way back in the division, they need to beat the teams at the top, and with a win tonight, they can gain even more ground on the first-place Cincinnati Reds. We’ll preview the game before going over which side I’ll be backing in this one.
There was a lot of speculation and anticipation surrounding Cody Bellinger heading into the trade deadline. Still, after all that, he will remain in a Cubs uniform for the remainder of the season. The former MVP showed exactly why the Cubs may have made the right decision last night, going 3-6 at the plate with three RBIs. Bellinger was one of six Cubs players to leave the yard in the team’s 20-9 win yesterday.
With Chicago looking to secure at least a series split with a win tonight, they will send lefty Drew Smyly to the mound for his first start since July 17th. Smyly has made two long relief appearances since his last start, and in the eight total innings he threw in those relief outings, he allowed a total of five runs on eight hits. Between his 19 starts and two other appearances, the lefty has racked up 108 total innings and pitched to a 4.58 ERA in that span.
Smyly will have his work cut out for him tonight in his return to a starter role, as he will take on a Reds team that has scored six or more runs in four of their last five games. Even in last night’s blowout loss, the Cincinnati offense still racked up 13 hits, including a Tyler Stephenson home run and two doubles from Spencer Steer.
Cincinnati will also be starting a lefty tonight, with Brandon Williamson taking the ball for the 14th time this season. Williamson has looked more comfortable at the big league level over his last few starts, allowing two or fewer earned runs in five straight outings. In his most recent start, the big lefty worked 5.2 innings, and despite allowing eight hits, he managed to let up just two earned runs and walk away with the win.
Following their 11-run loss last night, the Cincinnati Reds are currently listed at (+130) on the moneyline, and I’ll be backing them for my play. There was a reason why people were expecting the Reds to trade for a starter yesterday, and that reason was made clear in the loss. The good news for Reds fans and backers, though, is that while their lineup has crushed left-handed pitching recently, the Cubs lineup has struggled to produce against southpaws.
Over the last month, the Cubs rank 20th in wRC+, 19th in OPS, and 18th in wOBA against left-handed pitching at home. With numbers like that, it’s hard to imagine they can repeat what they did at the plate last night, especially with the level of success Brandon Williamson had in the month of July. The lefty pitched to a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings, so if he can carry that momentum into August, the Reds should be fine in the pitching department tonight.
Offensively, the Reds rank 5th in OPS and wRC+ and 3rd in wOBA against left-handed pitching on the road over the last month. Now they get to match up with a starter in Drew Smyly, that is in the 34th percentile in expected batting average and has a 4.47 FIP at home this season.
Cincinnati Reds (+130)