The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies meet in the finale of a three-game series Thursday with the Phillies looking for a sweep. Philadelphia won in blowout fashion Wednesday night 11-1. They got to Cole Hamels early and often in his return to Citizens Banks Park. He gave up two runs in each of the first two innings before a grand slam by J.T. Realmuto in the third put it out of reach. Hamels went only two innings, allowing nine hits and eight runs in his second straight bad outing. Bryce Harper had two home runs for Philadelphia.
Thursday night’s matchup will see Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43 ERA) for the Cubs facing Drew Smyly (1-1, 3.80 ERA) for the Phillies. Smyly has been much better since arriving in Philadelphia from Texas. His numbers for the whole season aren’t nearly as impressive, 2-6 with a 6.96 ERA. Darvish has seemed to turn the corner for Chicago. Over his last 41 1/3 innings, covering seven starts, he has struck out 53, and his ERA has gone from above five to the low fours.
Chicago is the favorite at -145, and the over/under is 9.5
Cubs’ Road Woes Continue
Chicago is 64-56 but only 23-37 away from Wrigley Field. The Cubs are now tied with St. Louis for first place in the National League Central after two straight road losses.
Darvish has been a different pitcher since the All-Star break. He has a WHIP of only 0.77, has given up only two walks in 35 innings, and has a 2.83 ERA. Darvish has still had a bit of a problem with the long ball, with his four runs allowed in his last start all coming via the home run.
Cubs hitters have very little experience against Smyly. The only two hitters who have ever faced the lefty are Nicholas Castellanos and Jonathan Lucroy, who both saw him in the American League before coming to Chicago. They both have had success against Smyly. They are combined 4 for 13 with an OPS of 1.049, and Lucroy has a home run. On the season Chicago has an OPS of only .754 against lefties.
Chicago has Brandon Kintzler, Craig Kimbrel and Steve Cishek on the IL, and Jason Heyward is listed as day-to-day.
Phillies Chasing Down Playoff Spot
The Phillies are 62-58 and 36-26 at home. They currently sit two games out of the last Wild Card spot, which is held by the Cubs.
Smyly really struggled this year in Texas. It has been a much different story since coming to Philadelphia. His ERA in Texas was 8.42. He was phenomenal in his first three starts for the Phillies, going 18 innings and allowing only 12 hits and six runs. He did regress a little in his last start, allowing seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and giving up three homers. Smyly has never faced the Cubs in his career.
Phillies hitters have had mild success against Darvish. They have combined for a .722 OPS in 61 plate appearances against him. Cesar Hernandez is 4 for 8 with a triple, and Corey Dickerson is 4 for 10 with a home run.
The Phillies have Jake Arrieta and Jared Eickhoff on the IL, and Dickerson and Maikel Franco are listed as day-to-day.
It is really tough to bet on the Cubs on the road at this point. But, Darvish has been a different pitcher of late, and Smyly’s stuff indicates that his numbers are probably going to regress towards his Texas numbers at some point. He was roughed up in his last outing, and the Cubs offense has to wake up at some point, right? The under 9.5 is very tempting considering the Cubs offense being absolutely dormant on the road and Darvish’s second-half numbers. I am riding with the Cubs at -145 to avoid the sweep.