The Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks will get together Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of a three-game series. On the road, the Cubs are slight -115 favorites to win the game and the series.
Chicago was a little sluggish at the start of the season, but they’ve turned things around over the past couple of weeks. The Cubs have won eight of their last 11 games to climb above .500 at 13-12. At the moment, they are 2.5 games behind the Cardinals, who they will play at home next weekend.
Arizona, meanwhile, is hanging tough inside the NL West. Before Saturday’s 9-1 loss to the Cubs, the Diamondbacks had rattled off five straight wins. They’ve won 10 of their last 13 games and are now four games over .500 and just 1.5 games off the pace in the NL West.
Luke Weaver will get the ball for the Diamondbacks on Sunday. The 25-year-old looked shaky early in the year, but he has settled down nicely the second half of April. Over his last two starts, Weaver has allowed just one run in 11.1 innings of work, striking out 16 and walking only two in that span. His ERA on the season is down to 3.33, as he’s becoming a key figure in Arizona’s rotation.
Alas, as a former Cardinal, he’s faced the Cubs a few times over the last couple of seasons, and the results haven’t been good. The likes of Javier Baez, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant have all done serious damage against Weaver in the past. At the moment, Baez and Rizzo are two of the hottest hitters in baseball. Heyward is also having a great April, as is catcher Willson Contreras, giving the Cubs a lot of players who seem poised to hurt Weaver.
In the Groove
The Cubs will send lefty Jose Quintana to the mound in Sunday’s rubber match. Quintana may be in the best form he’s had since being traded to the Cubs. He’s had three straight starts in which he’s pitched seven full innings. He’s also given up a total of two runs on 14 hits over those 21 innings while striking out 25. After he started the month of April by giving up eight runs in three innings to the Brewers, Quintana has gotten his act together and won three starts in a row.
On the other hand, he’s had his fair share of trouble with some of Arizona’s hitters. Adam Jones is 9 for 17 with three doubles and two home runs in his career against Quintana. The veteran centerfielder is also hitting .314 with an OPS of .935 on the season. First baseman Christian Walker is also doing a great job of replacing Paul Goldschmidt, hitting seven home runs and posting an OPS of 1.007 thus far. Outside of David Peralta, the Diamondbacks have a lineup of right-handed and switch hitters, so they could cause trouble for Quintana.
The game could go either way, but in the end, Quintana will be better able to pitch around Jones and Walker than Weaver dealing with a lineup of Cubs he’s struggled against in the past. The money line is low, so there could be a nice payoff if Chicago wins. Bet on the Cubs to beat Arizona on Sunday.