Both the Marlins and Cubs will come into this afternoon's game in the midst of losing streaks, with Miami fresh off getting swept by the Braves and the Cubs losing three straight to the Nationals. We’ll preview today’s game before going over which side I’ll be backing in the first five innings.
With their loss yesterday to the Braves, the Marlins' record is back to .500 at 16-16. The three-game series in which they got swept was a disaster for their pitching staff, as they allowed six or more runs in all three games, including a 14-6 loss on Wednesday night. Currently, the Marlins' pitching staff is ranked 25th or worse in opponent OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS.
Today Miami will look to get back on track against a team they recently swept in the Cubs, and they’ll hand the ball to Edward Cabrera to make his seventh start of the year. The young right-hander has thrown 27 innings this season with a 4.67 ERA and 36 strikeouts to go with 25 walks. Cabrera’s most recent outing came against the Cubs, and he turned in his best start of the year, throwing five innings with 12 strikeouts and two earned runs.
Cabrera may have just faced them recently, but today’s Cubs lineup might be slightly different than it was on April 29th. Chicago has decided to call up their number six prospect Matt Mervis to make his Major League debut today, as he will be batting 7th today. Mervis and his .560 slugging percentage from Triple-A this season have the potential to provide a spark to a Cubs lineup that looked lost over their last three games.
The other positive for Chicago is that they will have lefty Justin Steele on the mound today. In 36.3 innings of work, Steele has pitched to a 1.49 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 11 walks. Steele’s most recent outing came against the Marlins, and he threw six innings with three strikeouts and two earned runs allowed, ultimately getting a no-decision for the game.
The Cubs F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-115), and I’ll be backing them for my play. They may be struggling, but Chicago is the third most profitable F5 run-line team at home in terms of ROI. Miami is 5-8 ATS in the first five when playing on the road and hitting .239 in road games up to this point, and they face a tough matchup today with Justin Steele.
The left-hander is in the 79th percentile in barrel percentage and 95th percentile in hard-hit percentage, and he has been dominant at Wrigley. In three starts at home, Steele is 2-0 with a .52 ERA with 16 strikeouts and in 17 ⅓ innings, and I think that level of production can continue today against a Marlins team that is 30th in the league in average runs scored in the first five innings.
Edward Cabrera had a good outing against the Cubs in his last start, but his numbers are going to be hard to maintain with his walk rate. Cabrera is in the 2nd percentile in walk percentage, and on top of that, he is in the 26th percentile in hard hit percentage and 33rd percentile in average exit velocity. I think Chicago will come out aggressive today and will get a jolt from having Mervis in the lineup.
Chicago Cubs F5 (-.5)(-115)