Miami Marlins (+123) at Chicago Cubs (-133)
We’re not even at the All-Star Break yet, but it’s not too early for teams to start worrying about the playoff race. That’s especially true for the Chicago Cubs (42-36, 20-16 home). The division title already appears out of reach with the Cardinals nearly ten games up and showing no signs of slowing down. That leaves the two Wild Card spots to be divided between the Cubs, Pirates, Giants, and the surprise Mets.
The Cubs currently occupy the second Wild Card berth, but have the Giants breathing down their neck. Tonight, Chicago will look to help its playoff cause with a win over the visiting Miami Marlins (34-46, 14-24 away) in the second of their three-game series.
Chicago will send youngster Donn Roach (0-1, 10.80 ERA) to the mound to face Miami’s Jarred Cosart (1-3, 4.12 ERA).
The Cubs bounced back from a recent sweep at the hands of the Cardinals by taking three in a row from the Mets. The sweep came on the strength three sterling pitching performances as Chicago held the Mets to just one run over the three-game set. The team got another strong outing from starter Jason Hammels in the opener against Miami (seven innings pitched, four hits, two earned runs, and five strikeouts), but let it go to waste, mustering just one run off of Miami starter Tom Koehler en route to a 2-1 loss.
The win was the fourth straight for the Marlins, who are finally showing signs of life despite losing star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to a hand injury. The team swept the Giants in San Francisco before travelling to Chicago The Marlin, who remain 8.5-games back of the Cubs for the second Wild Card berth, may decide whether to be buyers or sellers come the All-Star Break based on their performance against Chicago.
If they can manage a road sweep, they would sit just 6.5 back of a playoff spot with half a season to go. After welcoming ace Jose Fernandez back to the lineup following Tommy John surgery, a 6.5-game deficit may look surmountable to management.
As for tonight’s game, the Marlins will turn to 25-year-old Cosart, who has posted two straight no-decisions. Last time out, the righty went just four innings, giving up six hits and two earned in a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers. Roach didn’t fare any better in his last start – which was also his first of the season and first career with Chicago – giving up eight hits and four runs in 3.1 innings of work during an 8-1 loss to St. Louis.
Cosart isn’t anything special, but he should give the Marlins the edge in the pitching matchup against the inexperienced Roach. That makes the Miami moneyline (+123) look like better value.
Pick: Marlins (+123).
(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. Photo has been cropped.)