The Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs are set to play the second game of their three-game series on Wednesday as two of the worst teams in the National League look for any positive signs they can find.
The Reds took the series opener 5-3 but are now underdogs with a +120 moneyline on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Cubs are home favorites with a moneyline of -140.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs have now lost six of their last nine games. They also continue to have trouble at Wrigley Field, going just 13-26 at home this year. Chicago is now 18 games under .500 and 13.5 games out of a playoff spot.
Of course, the Reds have been even worse, as they sit 21 games under .500. That puts them 15 games out of a playoff spot and 1.5 games behind the Cubs for last place in the NL Central. The only silver lining is the Reds have won three of their last four games after a seven-game losing streak.
The Reds will send rookie Hunter Greene to the mound for his 15th career start on Wednesday. The 22-year-old has endured some ups and downs in his first 14 starts of the season, going 3-8 with a 5.66 ERA.
While he’s striking out batters at a high rate, Greene still owns a 5.26 ERA over his five starts in June, with the Reds only winning three of his 14 starts.
Fortunately for the Reds, they are starting to come out of their offensive slump a little, averaging five runs per game over their last six games. In their defense, the Reds have been hit by a few injuries this year, particularly in their outfield and to catcher Tyler Stephenson, who had been one of Cincinnati’s best hitters.
On the bright side, Brandon Drury continues a standout season while Nick Senzel and Donovan Solano have hit their stride over the last week.
Man of Steele
Lefty Justin Steele will get the call for the Cubs on Wednesday. In his 14 starts this year, the southpaw is 2-5 with a 4.59 ERA. Despite getting roughed up a little by the Pirates in his last start, things are moving in the right direction for Steele, who has a 3.28 ERA in June despite the Cubs losing three of his four starts this month.
However, the Chicago lineup continues to be a little erratic and unreliable. The Cubs have scored three runs or less in three of their last four games and in seven of their last 11 games.
While Nico Hoerner and Rafael Ortega have heated up recently, Willson Contreras and Ian Hap have both cooled down after being Chicago’s best hitters for most of the season.
Even the Score
As mentioned, the Cubs have been dreadful at home, which doesn’t bode well for their chances on Wednesday.
However, the Reds are just 7-14 against left-handed starters, which could swing things in Chicago’s favor with Steele on the mound. Given Cincinnati’s terrible record with Greene on the mound, the smart money is on the Cubs to win on Wednesday.
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