The Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks both enter Friday’s series opener coming off two straight loses in a meeting that could be pivotal for each club moving forward.
Chicago Cubs Form
Coming off their first World Series title in over a century, the Cubs have struggled to find any level of consistency on the field for much of this season. Despite the rollercoaster season, Chicago still finds themselves atop of the NL Central sitting at a 59-54 record heading into the series opener against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs had appeared to finally hit stride following the All-Star break winning 14 of their first 17 games, but have since dropped six of their last eight games.
This stretch includes dropping two of three to the Diamondback at home at the beginning of the month of August in spite of outscoring them 24-17 in the series. Granted, the bulk of that came in the series opener in a 16-4 win, it marked the start of a disappointing span for the Cubs where they lost two of three games to both the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants. On top of that, Chicago also lost catcher Willson Contreras to a hamstring injury that requires an MRI. He had been blazing hot since the All-Star break hitting .311 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs, and 16 runs scored in 90 plate appearances.
The Cubs are already dealing with the absence of shortstop Addison Russell, who has been sidelined with a right foot strain that should keep him out several more days. That said, Chicago is set to send veteran right-hander John Lackey to the mound on Friday night against the Diamondbacks. Lackey holds a 9-9 record with a 4.81 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 21 starts. In his career against Arizona, he holds an unblemished 4-0 record with a 2.76 ERA in five career starts. Lackey is also 6-5 with a 4.83 ERA in 11 starts on the road this season.
Arizona Diamondbacks Form
It has been much of the same struggles for the Diamondbacks over the last couple of months holding a 14-22 record since reaching a season-high 22 games over .500 back on June 27. Things have continued in that direction in the last 10 games holding a 4-6 record over that stretch including dropping the final two of the three-game series at home against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, who hold the top the record in the majors.
Arizona has been one of the better teams in the National League this season currently sitting comfortably in the second NL wild card spot just a game behind the Colorado Rockies for the top spot. The Diamondbacks have just been overshadowed by the dominant play of the Dodgers over the last few months as they have 46 wins in the last 54 games played. That said, they yield one of the top pitching staffs in the majors this season ranking second in ERA (3.55), fourth in opponent batting average (.238), and sixth in strikeouts (1051).
The Diamondbacks are set to counter with young right-hander Taijuan Walker, who holds a 6-5 record with a 3.60 ERA in 18 starts this season. This includes allowing more than three earned runs just once in the last 13 outings this year. Friday’s game will mark his first career game against the Cubs, and hold currently holds a 4-3 record with a 3.11 ERA in 10 starts this season at home.
The bookmakers currently have the Diamondbacks as the slight favorites in the series opener on Friday night. 1xBet Review has them slated at 8/5 odds over the Cubs, who are at 5/9 for the contest.
Given Arizona’s success a Chase Field this season holding a 37-20 mark, which is one of the best home records this year, we recommend staying the course with them at a 7/4 odds to top the defending champions.