Texas Rangers (+170) at Chicago Cubs (-180, 9 O/U)
Perhaps it was a breeze off Lake Michigan, but the Chicago Cubs (53-35, 26-14 Home) cooled dramatically heading into the All-Star break. Once owners of the best record in baseball, the Cubs now need to overcome three teams to reclaim that title, including this weekend’s visitor, the Texas Rangers (54-36, 25-21 Away). The three-game set begins this Friday at Wrigley Field (2:20 PM Eastern).
Despite beating Pittsburgh in their last outing, the Cubs lost nine of the last 11 before the ASG. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 2.55 ERA) will take the bump, tasked with starting the second half of the season off right. Hendricks worked 5.1 innings against Cincinnati last outing, allowing four hits and just one run. He has won three of his last four starts.
Left-hander Martin Perez (7-5, 3.85 ERA) will counter for the Rangers. His last outing was his worst of the season after going just four innings, allowing nine hits and 11 runs in an 11-6 loss to the Red Sox last Thursday.
The Rangers lead the American League by a game, however, they have faced similar struggles to the Cubs lately. Texas has dropped nine of the last 12 games, including a 2-5 stretch against the bottom-feeding Minnesota Twins.
Though these teams may have both misplaced their ability to win, they haven’t lost their ability to mash. The Rangers are sixth in the majors in runs scored; the Cubs are second. Texas has hit the over in seven of its last nine, while Chicago has surpassed the total in six of its last eight. With pitching looking shaky on both sides right now, expect a ton of balls to be clearing the ivy at Wrigley.
Pick: OVER (9).
(Photo Credit: EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)