The Cubs may have failed to secure a sweep in their London Series with the Cardinals, but they are still able to return to Wrigley Field boasting an 8-2 record over their last ten games. Chicago is two wins away from getting back to a .500 record, and the team standing in their way will be the Phillies. We’ll preview the opening game of the series before going over why I think runs could be put on the board early tonight.
Chicago is not the only team in this matchup that has been playing well over the last ten games, as the Phillies are sporting a 7-3 record in that span. Before their off day yesterday, Philadelphia picked up a big series win over divisional rival New York Mets over the weekend. In Sunday’s 7-6 win, the Phillies used a four-run 8th inning to propel them to the win as a Trea Turner hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded ended up being the winning run.
The Phillies will kick off their short road stand in Chicago with lefty Ranger Suarez on the mound for his 9th start of the season. Suarez started his year on May 13th, and in the 43.7 innings he’s thrown, he has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks. Entering tonight, the left-hander has turned in four straight starts in which he has allowed one or fewer earned runs, so he comes into this matchup with a lot of momentum.
In his first start since a six-inning no-decision against the Braves, Suarez will take on a Cubs lineup that scored 14 runs in their two games in London. While the London Series is known to produce high-scoring games, the Cubs have still scored five or more runs in seven of their last ten games. In their 7-5 loss on Sunday, Chicago registered seven hits, with four going for extra bases.
If Chicago wants to keep playing at the level they are on, they will need their pitching staff to keep churning out quality starts, and one pitcher who has struggled with that is tonight’s starter, Jameson Taillon. The right-hander has made 12 starts up to this point and is pitching to a 6.71 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 19 walks.
One of the biggest areas that Taillon has struggled with this season is coming out of the gate slow, and he has shown no signs of this being fixed. That said, with the YRFI currently priced at (-106), I will be taking that for my play in this one. Taillon is currently pitching to a 7.50 first-inning ERA, and he has a less-than-ideal matchup tonight with a Phillies team that is averaging .71 runs per game in the first inning on the road and is 7-3 to the YRFI over their past ten games.
The Phillies are 9th in wRC+, 8th in OPS, and 4th in BAbip against right-handed pitching on the road over the past month. Those numbers, combined with the fact that Taillon has a 6.57 ERA and a .284 batting average the first time through the order, are a recipe for early runs.
On the other side, opponents are hitting .299 against Ranger Suarez the first time through the order, which has led to an xFIP of 3.36. The Cubs are averaging .54 runs per game in the first inning at home and are 6th in OPS against left-handed pitching at home over the last month, so with Suarez’s .370 BAbip the first time through the order, I think the Cubs can cash in early.
Yes Run First Inning (-106)