Back Cubs in NLDS Pitching Rematch Between Lester, Giants' Cueto on May 23

Matthew Jordan

Monday, May 22, 2017 10:52 PM UTC

Monday, May. 22, 2017 10:52 PM UTC

It’s an NL Division Series rematch on Tuesday night from Wrigley Field in ESPN’s early national TV game (7 ET) as the San Francisco Giants visit the Chicago Cubs. Looks to be an excellent pitching matchup that we saw last October.

MLB Season Record: 14-11

San Francisco Giants At Chicago Cubs (-148)

The San Francisco Giants play Game No. 2 of a four-game series vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field – their only visit of the season – on Tuesday night and ESPN has it at 7 p.m. ET.

Of course the Giants and Cubs were both playoff teams last year – with Chicago beating the Giants in four games in the NLDS to end San Francisco’s even-numbered year World Series trend -- but neither would make it as things stand currently. Chicago is still expected to find its 2016 form at some point and repeat in the NL Central as -400 MLB betting favorites.  Even though the Cubs have been moderately disappointing thus far, they are 8-5-1 in 14 series.

Reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant is off to an even better start than last year and one of the few Cubs hitting consistently. On Sunday, he had the ninth career multi-homer game of his young career. That’s tied for third-most in franchise history prior to the age of 26 with current teammate Anthony Rizzo. Hall of Famer Ron Santo and Sammy Sosa each had 10 multi-homer games for Chicago prior to their 26th birthdays. Considering Bryant doesn’t turn 26 until January, that record seems likely to fall.

The Giants, meanwhile, are already buried in the NL West and probably have too big a hole to climb out of considering ace Madison Bumgarner is out a couple of month. There’s been talk the Giants might actually be sellers ahead of the July 31 trade deadline so they can reset for 2018 and add some young talent. Closer Mark Melancon was the team’s big offseason free-agent acquisition, but he’s reportedly available and being scouted by his former team, the Washington Nationals.


Tuesday’s Probable Pitchers

Good pitching matchup for this one, although as with all Cubs games we won’t see a total until a few hours before first pitch when the wind direction is determined. It won’t be a very high number unless it’s blowing out strong.

San Francisco’s Johnny Cueto (4-3, 4.50) hasn’t been his usual dominant self at times this year – he could be traded by July 31 as Cueto can opt-out of his contract this offseason and become a free agent. Cueto took the loss last time out against the Dodgers as he was up against Clayton Kershaw. Cueto allowed five runs over six innings. That ended a streak of four straight quality outings.

In Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS at Wrigley, Cueto pitched a dominant eight innings and allowed only one run and three hits while striking out 10 but took the loss in a 1-0 decision. Javier Baez homered off him in the bottom of the eighth. Cueto is 9-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 24 career regular-season starts vs. the Cubs and 5-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 15 starts at Wrigley Field. Expect Jon Jay to start in center for Chicago considering he’s 13-for-38 career off Cueto with three homers. Bryant has three singles in five at-bats off him.

Cubs ace lefty Jon Lester (2-2, 3.57) was opposite Cueto in Game 1 of the NLDS, threw eight shutout innings and gave up five hits. Lester, incidentally, was offered more money by the Giants than the Cubs when he was a free agent following the 2014 season but wanted to be part of ending the Cubs’ curse – and he surely was.

Lester loves Wrigley Field too. He beat the Reds there last Thursday (6 IP, 3 ER) and improved to 11-0 with a 1.60 ERA in his last 15 regular-season home starts. His 11 straight winning decisions are the most ever compiled by a lefty at Wrigley. The last Cub with a home winning streak longer than 11 games was Jon Lieber, who won 13 straight home decisions spanning the 2001-02 seasons.

Tough to go against Lester with that home streak going. The Cubs are 8-1 in his past nine at Wrigley vs. teams with a losing record as well. Chicago is the MLB pick.

Free MLB Pick: Cubs -148Best Line Offered: Heritage

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