The Chicago Cubs look to complete an important three-game series sweep against the New York Mets on Thursday night. The Cubs have taken the first two contests in this series, including a 10-7 win on Wednesday night that featured three Chicago home runs.
The victory pulled Chicago to within two games of National League Central leader St. Louis. The Cubs are also still two games ahead of Philadelphia for the second Wild Card spot in the National League, three games behind Washington, which has the first spot. The Mets dropped to four games behind the Cubs in the Wild Card chase with the loss, while they sit in fourth place in the National League East, 12.5 games behind first-place Atlanta.
The moneyline for this contest has the Chicago Cubs +175 and the New York Mets -190. The over/under for the game has been set at 7.5.
Struggle Down The Stretch
For a few years now, Jon Lester has been the Cubs’ go-to guy when they needed a good start. This season, the 35-year-old just hasn’t had it in most of his starts in the second half of the season, going 2-3 in eight starts since the All-Star break. Lester hasn’t just been losing; he’s been losing big, allowing five earned runs to the Cardinals, nine earned runs to the Athletics, and six earned runs to the Nationals in his last start. On the season, Lester is 10-9 with a 4.49 ERA.
The Cubs’ offense has started to catch fire against the Mets, with Chicago hitting five home runs that have accounted for 10 runs in the first two games. Nicholas Castellanos has been a revelation since coming over from Detroit at the trade deadline, batting .365 with nine home runs and 16 RBI in August. Kyle Schwarber has also been hot in August, batting .250 with seven home runs and 18 RBI.
Needing A Solid Start
The Mets went into last weekend with a three-game series with Atlanta followed by this series against the Cubs. They’ve gone 0-5 thus far, pushing them to the brink of falling out of the postseason race. New York will turn to Jacob deGrom to try to right the ship in the series finale. deGrom is 8-7 on the season with a 2.56 ERA, but he has not taken a loss since the end of June, going 4-0 over his last nine starts and allowing more than one earned run in a game just twice over that span.
New York needs to jump on Lester early, as he’s known to struggle early in games before settling down. The Mets could also use a lead rather than fighting from behind, as they did throughout Wednesday’s game. The biggest bat in the New York lineup is rookie Pete Alonso, who leads the team with 42 home runs and 101 RBI this season. Jeff McNeil is another crucial player to the Mets’ success, as he paces the team with a .333 batting average to go with 16 home runs and 57 RBI.
Mets Salvage A Win
Both of these teams need all the wins they can get for the next month, so there’s tension in both dugouts. Lester has struggled of late, while deGrom is pitching well. The Cubs have had their troubles on the road this season, so it’s hard to believe they’ll be able to sweep a road series. I’m going with New York -190 to get the win.