Coach Maddon has his Cubbies playing some good ball, and this handicapper expects more of the same when the Cubs open a three-game weekend Windy City series with the White Sox down on the South Side Friday afternoon.
Cubs-Sox Friday Odds
As of early Friday morning the best price available on the Cubbies with Kyle Hendricks was the +100 at BetOnline, while Bovada was listing the White Sox with Jeff Samardzija at -102. And most books listed a total on tonight's game of eight runs, with a few 8.5's out there, too.
Also, BetOnline was offering both teams at -110 to win this series.
The Cubs just swept three games at home from Milwaukee, winning Thursday 9-2 with help from five home runs. Just before that they swept four games from San Francisco. So the Cubbies have won seven in a row, 13 of their last 14, and at 65-48 now lead the Giants by 4.5 games in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
The White Sox, meanwhile, just swept three games at home from Anaheim, winning Wednesday 3-2 in 13 innings. They then had yesterday off. But prior to that the Sox had lost three series in a row, and eight of their previous 10 games. So at 54-58 the Southsiders sit five games and five teams from the nearest American League playoff spot.
This is the second meeting this season between these Windy City rivals; one month ago the Sox took two of three games at Wrigley, with the totals going 0-2-1, as the teams combined to score just 11 runs total over the three games.
Friday's Mound Match-Up
Samardzija (8-7, 4.62), by our tough accounting, is 10-for-23 on quality starts this season, and 0 for his last three. Last Saturday he gave up seven runs in less than five innings against Kansas City, and over his last three starts he's been tagged for 20 runs through 17 1/3 innings. For the season the former Cub has allowed more hits, 162, including 17 dingers, than innings pitched, 158, but his strikeouts/walks ratio is pretty good, at 115/31.
The White Sox are 11-12 in Samardzija's starts, with the totals leaning OVER by a 13-9 margin.
This will be Samardzija's first-ever start against his former club.
Hendricks (6-5, 3.73) is just seven-for-22 on quality starts, and one for his last five. Last Saturday he gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings against San Francisco, and over his last four starts he's allowed 13 runs through 23 1/3 innings. However, on the season Hendricks has allowed fewer hits, 121, than innings pitched, 128, and his K/BB ratio is pretty good, too, at 108/27.
The Cubbies are 12-10 in Hendricks' starts, with the totals splitting 11-11.
In his only previous career start against the White Sox, one month ago, Hendricks tossed seven innings of five-hit, shutout ball, walking none while whiffing four, although the Cubs eventually lost that game 1-0.
Friday's Batting Splits
The Cubs rank 29th in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .238 team batting average, but 16th with a .314 team on-base percentage.
The White Sox rank 16th against righties with a .252 team average and 21st with a .308 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Cell this season are a lopsided 35-19 on the UNDERS, averaging 7.3 runs per, fourth-fewest among all ML ballparks.
Cubs-Sox Friday Free Picks
We'll give Hendricks the check mark in the pitching match-up, and the Cubbies are a hot outfit. We like the Northsiders today. Also, we can see this game getting to 6-3, so we're thinking OVER with our MLB picks.
MLB Picks: Cubs and OVER eight runs (-119) at Pinnacle