The Cubs clinched the NL Central Thursday and host the Brewers as an encore performance Friday afternoon at Wrigley. Get your free MLB pick and betting preview here.
Milwaukee Brewers (66-81) – Chase Anderson (8-11, 4.53 ERA)
The Brewers 5-4 win over the Cubs on Thursday was just their second victory at Wrigley in their last 13 visits. Manager Craig Counsell now has his mind on the next prize: a series win. Milwaukee has taken only one of its last eight on the north side.
Counsell turns to the red-hot Chase Anderson for the start. Anderson has not allowed a run in his last 10 2/3 innings. How far he can go in the contest is the big question.
The right-hander's service is typically short-lived and he's likely not going to work deep into the game. Anderson has reached into the sixth inning just twice in his last 18 starts, his only two quality efforts. The former Diamondbacks pitcher needles away at hitters with a brilliant circle-change and good sinker that induced plenty of ground balls.
Anderson is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against Chicago lifetime. He has allowed two earned runs in 9 1/3 innings, each solo home runs. Cubs outfielder Jason Hayward launched a first-inning bomb, and Kris Bryant followed up in the seventh with one of his own, during a 4-2 Chicago defeat back in May. In Anderson's only other outing against in August, he was forced to leave after two-thirds of an inning because of a Bryant line drive that ricocheted off his leg. Overall, the Cubs current roster is batting a measly .095 against with four hits in 43 plate appearances.
The Brew Crew are 4-10 as a road dog behind Anderson, yielding 5.3 runs per game. Going off at +147 average odds, fading the club has netted roughly 19 percent profit. The line is off the board as of publication, but Milwaukee hasn't taken the first pitch at Wrigley as chalk since September 2014.
Chicago Cubs (93-53) – John Lackey (9-8, 3.35 ERA)
Despite Thursday's defeat, the Cubs clinched their first NL Central title since 2008 with the Cardinals falling 6-2 to the Giants. They now have their sights on setting franchise records. If the team wins its next nine at home, it can eclipse its best winning percentage every at Wrigley (1935). Chicago is 51-21 (71 percent) at home this year.
Manager Joe Maddon gives John Lackey the honors this afternoon. The one-time AL ERA leader is sporting a 2.44 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 14 outings at Wrigley. He is 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 10 starts against the Brewers. Milwaukee's current roster is hitting .242 collectively with 23 hits and 29 strikeouts in 95 at-bats total.
The Cubs are 14-12 Lackey takes the pill this season, their worst winning percentage behind any pitcher with multiple starts. As home chalk, they are 8-6, though Lackey and the bullpen are allowing just 3.2 runs per game. Fading the World Series favorites in this spot has netted nearly 16 percent profit in 2016.
The Cubs' lineup can knock any pitcher off his perch on any given day. Anderson enters this contest pitching as well as he has all season, while Chicago is at its most vulnerable with Lackey on the hill. Lackey pitched really well in his last start against the Astros, though, despite taking the loss in a 2-1 defeat. Under normal conditions, one could expect a low-scoring start to this one. The wind will blow 10 mph out to left field at game time, so keeping the ball in the park will be imperative. We won't flirt with the unknown total in this one as a result, but will find a smidge of value in Milwaukee winning the first five innings. Brewers F5 at plus-odds is the MLB pick.
Free MLB Pick: Brewers 1st half (plus-odds)
Best Line Offered: No lines posted at the time of publishing