If you build it, NL Central rivals will come! In the first of a three-game series, the Chicago Cubs (45-65) and Cincinnati Reds (44-66) will square off in the Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa. The first pitch for this contest is scheduled for 7:15 pm ET.
Coming into Thursday’s contest, the Cubs won their last series over the Washington Nationals two games to one. In Wednesday’s finale, the Cubs were able to win 4-2.
Justin Steele threw six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits while striking out nine. Offensively, Nico Hoerner went two for four with his seventh home run of the season.
The Reds were not nearly as successful to start the week as they were swept by the New York Mets. On Wednesday, they lost 10-2 after T.J. Zeuch allowed six runs on six hits in just four innings.
Kyle Farmer and Joey Votto combined for four of the Reds’ six hits, but the team couldn’t get much going offensively against the Mets’ Taijuan Walker.
The Reds are slight favorites in Thursday’s game. They are -116 to win while the Cubs’ moneyline sits at -102. The runline features Chicago +1.5 (-215), and the over/under for total runs sits at nine.
Cubs Look To Take Down Division Rivals
At 45-65, the Chicago Cubs sit third in the NL Central; however, they still sit a whopping 15.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the division. Having lost six of their last 10, the Cubs will look to get back on track against the Reds.
Taking the mound for David Ross’ ballclub will be lefty Drew Smyly. In 14 games, the 33-year-old southpaw is 4-6 with a 3.97 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and has 52 strikeouts in 65.2 innings.
In his last start, Smyly was fantastic, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins. He allowed just five hits while striking out four in that start.
Offensively, Patrick Wisdom and Willson Contreras have been the Cubs’ best hitters. Despite hitting just .220/.314/.442, he leads the team with 20 home runs and 52 runs batted in.
For Contreras, he is hitting .253/.364/.463 with 16 home runs, 44 runs batted in, and a team-leading 55 runs scored.
Reds Trying To Catch Cubs In The Standings
The bottom of the NL Central has been pretty brutal this season as the Cubs, Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates are separated by just a single game. With a win on Thursday, the Reds would move into a tie for third place in the division.
The Reds will also send a southpaw to the mound as 24-year-old Nick Lodolo will take the ball in the opener. In nine games, he is 3-3 with a 4.40 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, and has 58 strikeouts in 43 innings.
He has taken no-decisions in his last two starts giving up a combined four runs in his last 10.2 innings. In that span, he has allowed eight hits while striking out 11.
Over the last couple of weeks, veteran first baseman Joey Votto has been much better at the dish. In 47 at bats, he is hitting .255/.407/.468 with three home runs, seven runs batted in, and five runs scored.
Keep an eye on Aristides Aquino in this one. He is four for nine with three home runs and five runs batted in against Smyly in his career. Nick Senzel also has a homer off the lefty.
Take The Cubs To Win
With a setting that conjures nostalgia from all baseball fans, the Field of Dreams game features two teams that have storied histories, even if their current seasons leave something to be desired.
Represented by the moneylines, this one could go either way and will likely be close throughout. For that reason, taking the Cubs at +1.5 on the runline is enticing, but at -215, there isn’t much value there.
Having won eight of the last 12 matchups between these two teams, taking the Cubs might be the best, especially with a veteran on the mound that may be more apt to handle the unusual characteristics of this particular game.
Take the Cubs to win at -102.