The Philadelphia Phillies make their only visit of the season to Wrigley Field early this week. And while Chicago’s Jon Lester was second in the Cy Young voting in 2016, he’s not the pitcher with the best numbers in Tuesday’s Game 2 of the series. The Cubs are coming off a series against the Boston Red Sox, which they only got one win out of 3 games. The Phillies are coming off a 3-loss series against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend. The Cubs will still be MLB betting favorites.
Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs MLB Betting Preview & Pick
— Phillies (@Phillies) May 1, 2017
When: Tuesday, May 2, 8:05 PM ET
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
Probable pitchers (away/home): Jeremy Hellickson/Jon Lester
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Radio: Phildelphia / Chicago
Opening MLB Lines: Cubs favored by TBA
Why Bet On Philadelphia?
The Phils remain without left fielder Howie Kendrick and starting pitcher Aaron Nola. Kendrick (oblique) worked out at first base during pre-game over the weekend. Kendrick doesn’t figure to become a regular at first base, but with Tommy Joseph struggling and Aaron Altherr hitting he could see some starts at first. The veteran is due to come off the disabled list in about a week. Over an 11-season career, Kendrick has played in 89 games at first base. He opened the season as the Phillies’ left fielder and hit .333 (13 for 39) with an .883 OPS before suffering an oblique injury two weeks ago in Washington.
Nola felt continued soreness in his lower back following a bullpen session Friday. The hope had been that Nola would be ready to return to the Phillies’ rotation on Monday, but that won’t happen now.
“After he completed it, he had some symptoms, some soreness or tightness, I guess,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “It was decided he will not make his start on Monday. He will be reevaluated to determine his next bullpen. A couple of days ago he said he felt great and then [Friday] not so great. He’s improving but he’s not 100 percent. There’s something bugging him. We’re just going to take it day to day. We’re being cautious with him this early in the season.”
An early candidate for NL Cy Young winner in 2017 is Philly’s Jeremy Hellickson, who is 4-0 with 1.80 ERA. Hellickson allowed one run over six innings for the Phillies against the Marlins last time out, earning the win to improve to 4–0 on the season. Hellickson has enjoyed success this year despite his modest strikeout numbers; he has struck out just 11 batters over 30 innings in his five starts this season, a total which includes his lone strikeout from Thursday. The last pitcher before Hellickson to win at least four of his first five starts of a season with fewer than a dozen strikeouts over that span was Derek Lowe, who went 4–1 in April 2012 for the Indians with just nine strikeouts in five starts.
Hellickson’s one outing against Cubs in his seven-year career came with Arizona in 2015. He has been worth every penny of the $17 million qualifying offer he accepted this offseason.
Why Bet On Chicago?
Kris Bryant hit his fourth home run of the season as the Cubs fell to the Red Sox on Sunday night in Boston. Bryant's fifth-inning blast was the only damage off of Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez. Bryant finished the night 1-for- 4 and is now hitting .289/.391/.515 with four homers and 14 RBI on the season. The Cubs lost two of three in the potential World Series preview.
Last April, the Cubs’ rotation had an ERA of 2.33. This year it’s 4.28. That’s a huge jump, and that alone can be the difference between a 13-11 month and a 17-5 one. That, for a point of reference, was the Cubs’ record last season when April ended.
“Last year was just quality start after quality start,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “That’s when you run off winning streaks.”
It’s lefty Jon Lester (0-1, 3.68) on the bump. Lester gave up six runs (five earned) on 10 hits and two walks while striking out five over 5.2 innings in Wednesday's 6-5 loss to the Pirates. After a strong beginning to the season, the veteran’s now been tagged for 10 earned runs and 19 hits over his last two outings, sending his ERA soaring to 3.68 and saddling him with a 1.43 WHIP.
Lester is obviously winless in his first five starts of the 2017 season, after sporting a 19-5 record for the Cubs last season. Last Wednesday’s game was Lester’s 164th regular-season road start of his major-league career, but just the second in which he allowed at least six runs and 10 hits as a visitor. The first was as a member of the Red Sox, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits in an April 2009 loss at Oakland.
Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs MLB Betting Pick: Cubs
At Wrigley Field, Lester has given up one run over 13 innings for a 0.69 ERA.