MLB Picks: Back Cubs In Friday's Lone Matinee Vs. Diamondbacks

Matthew Jordan

Friday, June 3, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jun. 3, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

There is one matinee on Friday during the baseball season: the Cubs at home. Well, it's Friday and they open a three-game series against Arizona, so let's check the MLB Odds.

What You Need To Know
So why are the Arizona Diamondbacks nearly in the National League West cellar when many expected them to contend for the division title after a very busy offseason? The offense hasn't been the problem despite two big injuries in the outfield. Arizona ranks in the Top 10 in all of baseball in most offensive categories despite All-Star center fielder A.J. Pollock breaking his elbow on the eve of the season and having surgery on April 5. He said on Tuesday said he's on track to resume activities on July 1 and expects to play this season.

Alas, by the time he might return, it likely will be way too late for Arizona to reach the playoffs even as a wild-card team. Fellow outfielder David Peralta, a two-time  All-Star, has been out since May 8 with a wrist injury but is playing in rehab games at Triple-A Reno this weekend and could be activated as early as Monday. Peralta was batting .260 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 33 games for Arizona.

No, the reason why the Diamondbacks are struggling is pitching. They rank near the bottom of the league in most major pitching categories because new additions Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, both All-Stars last year, are struggling. The Cubs have no such worries.

The teams met from April 7-9 in Phoenix, where the Cubs have their spring training camp. There were more Cubs fans in the stands for those three games than Arizona fans -- yes, Midwesterners tend to visit Arizona in the winter/spring. The Cubs took two of three. Dexter Fowler had a nice series, going 5-for-11 with two extra-base hits and two RBIs. Ben Zobrist was 5-for-15 with four runs and three RBIs. Jason Heyward was 5-for-15 with five runs scored and two RBIs. Anthony Rizzo had a homer, seven RBIs and four runs scored. The Cubs hit .287 as a team and scored 27 runs in the series.

Arizona scored a total of 14 runs in that first Cubs series. Jean Segura led the team with a .385 average, going 5-for-13 with two homers, two RBIs and four runs scored. Jake Lamb was 4-for-11 with four RBIs. Peralta was 5-for-14 with four runs scored. Paul Goldschmidt was 5-for-15 with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored.


Probable Pitchers
The Diamondbacks put the hugely struggling Miller on the disabled list last weekend, probably more for mental reasons than physical as he looks nothing like he did last year with Atlanta. So the team called up top pitching prospect Archie Bradley from Triple-A to take his place. Last Sunday was his third start in the majors this season and his best as the 23-year-old right-hander allowed three runs and four hits in 7.1 innings in a win over San Diego. The innings were a career high as were his nine strikeouts. Bradley (2-0, 6.11) was a bit shaky in two spot starts earlier this season but was 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Reno.

Bradley still qualifies as a rookie even though he made eight big-league starts in 2015 and was 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA. The Diamondbacks are 8-3 on MLB odds in his past 11 starts overall. Bradley has never faced the Cubs in a regular-season game. The only Cub to have faced him is the former Cardinal Heyward, who is 0-for-2.

The Cubs go with veteran right-hander John Lackey, who has been everything the team could have hoped for when it signed him to a two-year free-agent deal this offseason. Lackey (5-2, 3.16) hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his past six starts. Last Sunday at home, he allowed a run and four hits over seven innings in a win over the Phillies. It was his fourth start this season he lasted at least six innings and gave up one or zero runs. It was also Lackey's first win since May 6 because the Cubs had not been giving him much run support. The 'under' is 4-0 in Lackey's past four starts on MLB picks.

Lackey's Cubs debut was in Arizona on April 7 and he was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in six innings, probably his worst start of the year. Lackey might have been pressing a bit and actually still got the win. Segura has faced Lackey more than any Arizona batter (mostly from his Brewers days), going 10-for-22 with two  solo homers. Goldschmidt is 3-for-5 with a solo homer. Lamb is 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Nick Ahmed is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.

Cubs and 'under' if the wind isn't blowing out. If it's not, the total should be set at 8-8.5. It won't be determined until before the game. Chicago has won six straight Friday games and is 14-5 in its past 19 home games vs. Arizona. The Diamondbacks are 1-5 in their past six against right-handed starters. The 'under' is 4-1 in the Cubs' past five series openers and 4-0 in their past four against teams with a losing record.

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MLB Free Picks:  Cubs -238 & Under
Best Line Offered:  at BetOnline

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