Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs are supposed to be rebuilding this season, and they are but both have been a bit better than expected as they open a series at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. The Cubs should be favored on the MLB odds. The teams played last weekend in Arizona and the Cubs took two of three.
How to Bet Diamondbacks at Cubs MLB Odds & TV Info
Why Bet on Arizona?
Arizona is 8-6 in one-run games this season after going 10-31 in them last year. The eight one-run victories are tied for the most in the National League.
Not clear if Arizona will have arguably its best hitter on Thursday as Ketel Marte has not started the past two because of left hand soreness. Nothing serious but he can’t really grasp a bat. Marte is off to a slow start in batting .231 with two homers and 11 RBIs but had been coming on of late.
It’s right-hander Zac Gallen (2-0) on the mound, and in a shock he has been one of the better pitchers in the National League. Gallen delivered another dominant performance in a tough-luck no-decision against the Cubs last Saturday night, allowing just one run on two hits over his six frames. He had nine strikeouts while issuing only one base on balls.
The only blemish on his night came on a solo home run off the bat of Yan Gomes in the fourth inning. Gallen generated 14 swinging strikes in the contest — seven on his changeup — and posted an CSW of 35 percent. He’ll carry an impressive 1.05 ERA and 0.67 WHIP into a rematch against the Cubs.
Gallen’s 1.05 ERA is the second-lowest by an Arizona starting pitcher in his first six starts of a season in club history behind Randy Johnson’s 0.91 in 2000. Gallen has made three career starts vs. the Cubs and is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in 15.2 innings.
Gallen’s bread and butter pitch is his four-seam fastball, which is now up a tick from 93.4 mph last year to 94.4 mph this year. While that’s not an overpowering velocity, he is trying to do everything with the pitch and it is working. His 53.6 percent fastball usage ranks 20th highest out of qualified starters despite being at a league-average velocity. The biggest change in the fastball is that it’s located better than in previous seasons. He is staying away from the middle of the plate and showing an ability to live on the corners.
Why Bet on Chicago?
The Cubs have won three-straight series for the first time since last Aug. 31-Sept. 8 vs. Minnesota (2-0), Pittsburgh (4-0) and Cincinnati (2-1).
A Cubs reliever made history on Tuesday as Brandon Hughes recorded five strikeouts over 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his major-league debut against the Pirates. He became the first pitcher in the Modern Era to record five or more outs in an MLB debut with each out coming via strikeout. Hughes was forced to enter the contest in the sixth inning following an injury to lefty Daniel Norris.
By striking out five of the six batters he was credited with facing, Hughes became just the fourth Cubs reliever since 1901 to have at least five strikeouts in an MLB debut. He was the first Cubs player in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to strike out the first four batters of his career. The 26-year-old lefty will clearly stick around for a bit.
The Cubs also have put outfielder Jason Heyward on the injured list. Heyward is off to another slow offensive start. He’s hitting just .208/.288/.264, collecting only three extra-base hits (two doubles and a triple) through 80 trips to the plate. That’s not too dissimilar from his .214/.280/.347 showing over 104 games last season. Aside from a resurgence during the truncated 2020 season, Heyward has posted average or worse numbers at the plate throughout his tenure in Chicago. The five-time Gold Glove award winner has continued to play excellent defense in the outfield. Second baseman Nick Madrigal remains on the injured list with lower back tightness but might come off at some point this weekend.
The Cubs are expected to activate right-hander Marcus Stroman (1-3, 5.13) from the injured list to make his first start since May 1. Stroman was placed on the COVID-19 injured list May 8.
In Stroman’s last start vs. the Brewers, he pitched two-hit ball for seven innings in a 2-0 win. Stroman struck out five and got his first win for his new club after coming in with an 0-3 record and a 6.98 ERA. He has a 1.38 ERA (2 ER/13.0 IP) in his last two starts after posting an 8.78 ERA (13 ER/13.1 IP) in his first three. Stroman has allowed three runs or less in 16 of his last 20 starts since July 10, 2021, pitching to a 3.87 ERA (48 ER/111.2 IP) during that stretch. He was signed this offseason from the Mets.
Stroman has made four career starts against Arizona. He is 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA (11 ER/26.0 IP) and has allowed three runs or less in four of the starts, but has surrendered seven-plus hits in those starts. He made one start against the Diamondbacks in 2021 in Phoenix, receiving a no-decision (3 ER/6.0 IP). Overall, Stroman has struck out 22 batters and has walked only six in his four against Arizona.
If Stroman for some reason can’t go, it will be ace right-hander Kyle Hendricks on the mound Thursday. Hendricks (2-3) pitched well in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks last Saturday, giving up one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings of work. The 32-year-old walked two and struck out two on the evening. The only blemish was an RBI single off the bat of Nick Ahmed in the second inning. Hendricks generated five swings and misses on 94 pitches in the ballgame while posting a 27 percent CSW. He carries a 4.03 ERA and 1.25 WHIP into Thursday’s rematch.
Hendricks has allowed one run in his last 14 innings (and just 11 baserunners) and his ERA over his last five starts is 3.16 (also a 0.957 WHIP).