Monday features an Interleague matchup of two teams battling playoff spots when the Oakland Athletics (64-48) travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs (60-51). Both of these two teams are coming off weekend sweeps, with both sweeps benefitting the Cubs.
Oakland swept a short two-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs’ main rival for the NL Central title currently. Meanwhile, Chicago swept a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Currently in the standings, the Cubs hold a 1.5 game lead over the Cardinals.
For the A’s, they currently sit 8.5 games behind the Houston Astros in the AL West, but only a half-game back for the second Wild Card spot. The pitching matchup for this one features Chris Bassitt (7-5, 3.84 ERA) going for the Athletics against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks (8-8, 3.07 ERA). First pitch for this one is scheduled for 8:05 pm ET.
The moneyline for this one currently sits at the Oakland A’s +135 and the Chicago Cubs -145.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, these two teams are pretty comparable. The Oakland A’s rank 10th in the majors, averaging 5.06 runs per game (5.35 on the road). For the Cubs, they rank 14th, averaging 4.94 runs per game (4.91 at home).
On the pitching side, it is the Cubs that hold the slight advantage. They rank fifth in the majors with a team earned run average of 3.98 (3.29 at home). For the A’s, they rank ninth overall with a staff ERA of 4.08 (4.64 on the road).
When you put it all together, it is no surprise that the two teams sit back to back in the run differential rankings. The A’s hold the slight edge, ranking sixth with a run differential of +81. For the Cubs, they rank seventh with a run differential of +71.
A’s Look To Stay Hot
After winning six of their last seven games, the Athletics come into this one hot and will need to continue playing well to battle for a playoff spot. To do so, they turn to righty Chris Bassitt on Monday. On the season, he is 7-5 in 18 starts with a 3.84 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and opponents are hitting just .217 against him.
In 100 2/3 innings, Bassitt has allowed just 81 hits, 43 earned runs, 14 home runs and has struck out 96 versus 37 walks. In his last outing, a 3-2 win over the Brewers, Bassitt went six shutout innings, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out six. In fact, since the All-Star break, he is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA.
Whether it be because they are a small-market team or the fact that they play on the West Coast, the A’s don’t have a whole lot of household names on their team. Still, they have some hitters who are quietly having nice seasons. In addition to being an outstanding fielder, Matt Chapman has produced from the dish this season too. He is currently hitting .257/.343/.515 with 24 home runs, 64 runs batted in and 69 runs scored.
Two other players who have been solid are Ramon Laureano and Marcus Semien. Laureano is currently hitting .284/.334/.518 with 21 home runs, while Semien is hitting .275/.362/.468 with 17 home runs and 82 runs scored.
Cubs Trying To Create Space
Thanks to the A’s, it was a very successful weekend for the Cubs. Not only did they sweep third-place Milwaukee, but the A’s helped by sweeping St. Louis, pushing them into second place and allowing the Cubs to jump up to first again. Now 1.5 games up, the Cubs would like to stay hot and expand their lead.
Trying to get the series started off right, the Cubs will turn to righty Kyle Hendricks. On the season, Hendricks is 8-8 in 20 starts with a 3.07 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and opponents are hitting .241 against him. In 120 1/3 innings, he has allowed 110 hits, 41 earned runs, 13 home runs and has struck out 107 versus 25 walks.
In his last outing, a 2-0 win over St. Louis, he went seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. He will try to continue that success against Oakland on Monday.
Even though their offense has seemed inconsistent at times, the Cubs definitely have some sluggers on their team. Javier Baez is leading the way this year, hitting .288/.319/.548 with 26 home runs, 73 runs batted in and 77 runs scored. He leads the team in home runs and runs batted in while trailing only Kris Bryant in runs scored (Bryant has 81).
Speaking of Bryant, he is hitting .287/.388/.528 this season with 21 home runs and 51 runs batted in. Even with Willson Contreras going on the injured list, the Cubs still have a lineup that features these two plus Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, David Bote, and newcomers Nicholas Castellanos and Tony Kemp.
Cubs Come Through In Game One
I will be honest in saying that I went back and forth on this one. I like Bassitt against this lineup given that he has held lefties to just a .187 average against him this season, possibly minimizing the effects of Rizzo, Heyward, and Schwarber. However, Kyle Hendricks has been dominant too. In nine home starts this year, he is 4-2 with a 1.89 ERA. Throw on top of that the fact that the Cubs are a dominant 38-18 at home (versus 21-33 on the road), and the Cubs seem like a good bet here. Granted, it could be a decent value bet with Oakland and the favorable moneyline, but for my money, I am taking Chicago at -145.