The Cubs have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games and come into Friday’s game after splitting a four-game series with the Reds. While their offense put up 33 runs against Cincinnati, their pitching also allowed 26. They lead their division by just a single game over the Brewers, with St. Louis only a game and a half out.
Toronto comes into Chicago having won three out of four against division rival Tampa Bay and going 7-3 in their last 10. Although the team is struggling to reach .500 on the season, they are still in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, sitting a manageable three games behind the Angels with more than a month of baseball left to play.
Game 1 Starters – J.A. Happ (LHP) vs Jake Arrieta (RHP)
Happ has a 3.63 ERA this year for Toronto paired with a 1.33 WHIP and 8.66 K/9. The Blue Jays lefty had a rocky July but seems to have righted the ship so far in August. In three starts this month he holds a 1.45 ERA with 23 strikeouts in just 18.2 innings. Happ has only pitched seven innings or more in a start twice so far this year: once in his first game of the season, and once on August 2nd against the White Sox.
Arrieta hasn’t been quite up to form for the Cubs this season although his 2017 has not been a bad one by any means. He has a 3.73 ERA and 1.20 WHIP this year and he’s been red-hot since the All-Star break, posting a 2.09 ERA and striking out 33 in 38.2 innings. This will be his first appearance against Toronto all season.
|Blue Jays Lineup||Home Runs||BattingAverage||On-Base Percentage|
|Cubs Lineup||Home Runs||Batting Average||On-Base Percentage|
|Almora Jr., CF||5||.283||.333|
Who’s Hot, and Who’s Not
Josh Donaldson comes into Friday’s game with a whopping nine home runs in his last 50 at-bats. In 15 games in August, the former MVP has hit .400 and maintained a slugging percentage of 1.000. Justin Smoak continues to add onto his strong season, rocking a .950 OPS in his last six games. He has only struck out three times in his last 28 plate appearances.
While his power numbers look good, Jose Bautista is having a relatively rough week at the plate, batting .158 in his last seven games. During that span he has also struck out eight times in just 25 plate appearances.
The Cubs lineup is filled with hot hitters from top to bottom. In the last week Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Ian Happ all have an OPS of 1.000 or better, a batting average of over .300, and all five players have at least two home runs in their last seven games. Bryant has been especially impressive with 12 hits including three home runs and three doubles in his last 25 at-bats.
Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward still represent weak spots in the Cubs lineup. Zobrist is hitting .244 in August, with Heyward batting a mere .222. The two have combined for three extra-base hits in 90 at-bats over the same span.
Prediction: Cubs 7 – 2 Blue Jays
The Cubs bats will swing and the Blue Jays will struggle to keep up today with Arrieta on the mound. Chicago’s righty has hit his stride since the All-Star break and looks practically unhittable right now. Both teams are fighting for playoff spots, but I have to take the more talented team in this matchup.
Where to Watch
Today’s game will be broadcast on RSN and CSC, and streaming on MLB.TV for out of market subscribers.
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