The Chicago Cubs are reeling at the worst possible time.
With the MLB regular season winding down, the Cubs find themselves mired in a five-game losing streak as they fight for a spot in the postseason. Last week, the Cubs endured a 1-5 road trip by dropping two of three to the lowly Colorado Rockies and then getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As a result, the Diamondbacks have moved past the Cubs for the second NL wild-card spot with less than two weeks left in the season. While the Philadelphia Phillies occupy the top wild-card spot and have a 3.5-game edge on Arizona, the Cubs are now a half-game back of the D-backs and tied for the third and final wild-card spot with the NL Central rival Cincinnati Reds. On top of that, the Miami Marlins are just a half-game behind the Cubs and Reds, while the San Francisco Giants are two games off the pace.
With the postseason race amplifying even more over the final two weeks, can the Cubs turn things around? They’ve lost eight of their past 10 entering a pivotal six-game homestand at Wrigley Field that begins Tuesday with a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are well out of contention but have won four of their past six and would love to play spoiler. For the series opener, the Cubs are -165 favorites at BetMGM. The Pirates are +140.
Javier Assad is on the mound for the Cubs, and his past two outings have not gone particularly well. In 8 2/3 combined innings, Assad has allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs. He started the season as a reliever but was moved into the starting rotation in August following the injury to Marcus Stroman. The Cubs’ bullpen has been taxed lately, so the team could use a lift from Assad on Tuesday.
What else is going on in MLB?
There’s an important two-game series beginning between the Giants and Diamondbacks in Arizona as both teams fight for postseason berths. The Giants haven’t announced a starting pitcher, so there are no odds listed for Tuesday's game at the time of this writing.
Elsewhere in the NL wild-card hunt, the Marlins will look to get back in the win column in the second game of a three-game series with the New York Mets. The Marlins swept the Atlanta Braves over the weekend but fell to the Mets 2-1 on Monday. For Tuesday's matchup, the Marlins are -160 favorites at BetMGM.
The Reds, meanwhile, will play host to the Minnesota Twins. The Reds are using Fernando Cruz as an opener and are +110 home underdogs at BetMGM.
In the American League, the AL West-leading Houston Astros will host the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, 2.5 games up on the Tampa Rays in the division, topped the Astros 8-7 on Monday. For Tuesday, the Astros are -155 favorites at BetMGM. The Astros currently lead the West by 1.5 games over the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners.
The Rangers are -160 home favorites over the Boston Red Sox, while the Mariners are -225 favorites on the road over the Oakland A’s. The Rangers and Mariners are tied for the final AL wild-card spot and sit a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild-card spot. The Blue Jays, winners of three straight, are slight favorites (-115) on the road over the New York Yankees (-105).
What’s the best bet?
Let’s back the Blue Jays at -115 over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
The Blue Jays have Yusei Kikuchi on the mound looking to bounce back after a rough outing vs. the Rangers last week in which he allowed six earned runs. However, he had allowed more than two earned runs only twice in his previous 10 starts. With the Blue Jays fighting for a playoff berth, I’ll back the road team.