The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs wrap up a quick two-game interleague series from the Friendly Confines on Wednesday. Which way to bet at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks?
Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 – 8:15 p.m. ET – at Wrigley Field in Chicago
We look to improve to 2-0 on our MLB picks this week after correctly backing underdog Seattle at +147 in Game 1 of a home doubleheader to beat Oakland on Monday. The Mariners rallied from down 5-0 in the fourth inning for a 6-5 win in seven innings.
Arguably this writer’s greatest sports memory happened four years ago when the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in an incredibly memorable World Series. It’s not impossible the two teams could meet in the 2020 Fall Classic, but it’s rather unlikely (they are both going to the playoffs). Barring that, Wednesday is the last time the clubs will play this year and it’s also Cleveland’s final interleague road game.
The Cubs swept two games in Cleveland from Aug. 11-12 by a combined score of 14-3. Jason Heyward had a big series by going 4-for-6 with a homer and six RBIs. The Cubs hit .284 as a team. The Tribe, meanwhile, only hit .185. Franmil Reyes was 5-for-7 with a double but no one else did anything.
Entering this series, the Cubs are 7-5 in interleague play this season and the Indians 10-5. Since the start of 2016, the Cubs have the best interleague record in the NL.
Indians Probable Pitcher: Aaron Civale
The Tribe remain without manager Terry Francona due to health issues, although they are not COVID-19 related. Remains to be seen whether he will return this season or at all. He hasn’t managed since Aug. 16. Cleveland enters having lost back-to-back series for the first time this season. It probably lost a shot at winning the AL Central by being swept three games in Minnesota over the weekend.
It’s young right-hander Aaron Civale (3-5, 3.88) scheduled on the mound Wednesday. The 25-year-old has gone at least six innings in every start this year and went that many last time out, losing at home to Kansas City. He allowed four runs and seven hits. Civale retired eight of the first nine he faced but then ran into trouble.
Civale had a 2.91 ERA through his first five starts but that number has been 5.20 over his previous four. This will be Civale’s first-ever look at the Cubs. He’s 2-3 with a 3.71 ERA on the road in 2020 and been much better at night (3.38 ERA) overall than during the day (5.00).
Cubs Probable Pitcher: Jon Lester
The Cubs, Dodgers, and Padres are the only National League teams to have winning records this season at home and on the road. This is Chicago’s first interleague series since dropping two-of-three in Detroit from Aug. 24-26.
Barring a collapse, the Cubs should win the NL Central and they are -3000 heavy favorites on the MLB futures odds to do so for the first time since 2017 at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks. I’m not sure they will go very far in the playoffs, though, because guys like Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, and Willson Contreras aren’t hitting.
It’s lefty Jon Lester (2-2, 5.05) on the mound here. We bet against Lester and the Cubs with our SBR MLB pick last Friday in Milwaukee and the Cubs did lose 1-0 even though Lester was fabulous with just three hits over six innings. Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff was simply better.
It was the first time Lester didn’t allow a run in an outing since his first game of the season on July 27 in Cincinnati, when he no-hit the Reds over five. In his previous five starts, Lester had allowed a combined 24 runs on 40 hits. Apparently, Lester made some mechanical adjustments before Friday’s game. Contreras had pointed out the Lester had been flying open early in his delivery and “pushing” his pitches.
Lester pitched in Cleveland on Aug. 11 and allowed one run and three hits over six innings in a victory. It was on that same Progressive Field mound where Lester pitched three scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series when the Cubs beat the Indians to win their first title since 1908.
Lester is 8-3 in 18 career regular-season starts vs. the Indians with a 2.90 ERA. The vast majority of those came while Lester pitched for Boston. Carlos Santana has faced Lester more in the regular season than any Indians player and is 6-for-20 with three RBIs. Francisco Lindor is 4-for-11 with a solo homer.
Not a huge fan of either pitcher, so we’ll simply back the home side with our moneyline pick – nice value that the Cubbies opened as slight dogs too.