The Chicago Cubs will look to complete a sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night. The Cubs have won the first two games of the series in the desert by a combined score of 14-2. However, the Diamondbacks are -108 favorites to win Wednesday’s game.
Arizona’s playoff hopes are slipping fast. The Diamondbacks have lost four in a row and are just 4-13 in the month of September. They are now six games off the pace in the NL West and six games back in the wild-card race. The Diamondbacks need a swift turn around, especially with their next six games after Wednesday coming against the Dodgers and Rockies, the teams they’re chasing in the NL West.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are inching closer to closing out the NL Central. With five wins in their last six games, Chicago is sitting comfortably 3.5 games ahead of the Brewers with a magic number of eight. As long as they can avoid a disastrous two weeks, they should be able to hold onto their division lead.
A Ray of Light
The Diamondbacks will send lefty Robbie Ray to the mound on Wednesday night. Ray missed time early in the season with an oblique injury and had trouble getting back on track when he came back. However, he’s finally found his groove late in the season. Ray had a 3.24 ERA in August and has posted a 2.04 ERA during his three starts in September.
In a start against the Cubs in late July, Ray gave up one run on four hits over seven innings, only to get a no-decision in a game the Cubs won. In a somewhat limited track record, he has great numbers against most of Chicago’s hitters. Of course, the Cubs always have a deep lineup that gives opposing pitchers trouble, as they’ve demonstrated against Arizona the past two games. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant have been especially hot lately, so Ray has a tough matchup ahead of him.
New Ace on the Block
Cole Hamels will get the start for the Cubs on Wednesday. Since being traded to the Windy City, he’s become the team’s unquestioned ace, going 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA over nine starts. If there’s a silver lining for the Diamondbacks it’s that Hamels has been a little vulnerable in September. He’s given up seven runs in 18.1 innings of work in his three September starts. Hamels also hasn’t gotten a win in any of his last four starts.
Of course, it feels like the entire Arizona lineup is going through a slump at the exact wrong time of year. The Diamondbacks have enough quality hitters to break out of it at any time, but there have been few signs of that happening lately. Even worse, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock, arguably the team’s two most important hitters, are a combined 1 for 16 in their career against Hamels.
Not Desperate Enough
The Diamondbacks, as mentioned, are desperate for a win to help get things turned around. However, the Cubs are also pushing hard to finish out the division. With Hamels on the mound, the Cubs aren’t going to ease up and give Arizona much of a chance to turn things around. Bet on the Cubs +108 to win Wednesday and complete the sweep of the Diamondbacks.