Chicago Cubs (+102) at San Diego Padres (-112, 7 o/u)
Despite the Chicago Cubs (22-17, 9-9 Away) getting off to one of their best starts in recent years, the Northsiders already sit four games back of the St. Louis Cardinals at the top of the NL Central. Tonight, the Cubs will play the rubber match of their three-game set with the San Diego Padres (20-21, 11-11 Home) at Petco Park (9:10 PM Eastern).
San Diego and Chicago split the first two games of the series, with the Padres taking game one (4-3) and the Cubbies responding in game 2 (3-2).
Chicago will send 25-year-old right-hander Kyle Hendricks to the mound tonight; Hendricks is just 0-1 in seven starts this season with a concerning 5.15 ERA. His last outing (against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 15) didn’t inspire confidence. Hendricks surrendered eight hits and five earned in 5.2 innings. The Cubs managed an 11-10 win, allowing Hendricks to avoid the loss.
San Diego will counter with right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne. The 28-year-old Cuban has made eight appearances and four starts on the year, posting a 2-2 record with a 6.75 ERA. Concerningly for the Padres, Despaigne hasn’t won since April 20th, and the team has lost the last five times he pitched.
Despaigne may run into trouble against the big bats of Anthony Rizzo (.333 AVG, 8 HR) and highly-touted rookie Kris Bryant (.291 AVG, 25 RBI) tonight. Rizzo, in particular, has been phenomenal for Chicago this year, posting a team-high 2.2 offensive WAR (wins-over-replacement).
That said, the Padres have their own stable of sluggers that will give Hendricks problems – including Justin Upton (11 HR, 29 RBI), Will Myers (.291 AVG, ten 2B), and Derrick Norris (.291 AVG, 25 RBI, 15 2B). In the pitcher-friendly Petco Park, look for the Cubs long-ball power to be quelled and the Padres to nickle-and-dime their way to a win.
Pick: Padres (-112).
(Photo credit: bengrey on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)