The Reds lead the series 2-0 after winning 8-5 on Saturday, their third head-to-head victory in four games this season. Buck Farmer threw 1.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to get the win, and Alexis Diaz picked up his 11th save with a scoreless ninth.
Jonathan India was 3 for 5 with two home runs and five RBIs in the win. Nico Hoerner went 2 for 4 with one run and one RBI for the Cubs.
ON THE MOUND
Graham Ashcraft (2-3, 5.57 ERA) is slated to get the start for Cincinnati. The RHP allowed seven runs over five innings in his last start, an 8-5 home defeat against the Cardinals on Tuesday. He took the loss, yielding 10 hits while striking out five.
Ashcraft is making his first appearance against the Cubs this season. Over four starts against the Cubs in 2022, Ashcraft was 0-4 with an 11.88 ERA over 16.2 innings. He had 10 strikeouts and 12 walks. For Chicago, southpaw Drew Smyly (5-1, 2.93 ERA) will toe the rubber.
He has made one prior start against the Reds this season, giving up seven runs (6 ER) over 4.2 innings in a 7-6 road defeat on April 3. He gave up nine hits and walked two, while striking out three in the loss.
In his last start on Tuesday, Smyly got the win at home against the Mets. He threw five innings and gave up two runs on four hits, striking out five and walking two in the 7-2 triumph. The LHP is tied for fifth in the NL in wins.
AT THE PLATE
Over the last five games, Cincinnati has averaged 6.6 runs a game, up from their season average of 4.5, while slashing better across the board (.344/.389/.513). Against southpaws like Smyly this season, the Reds have a .753 OPS.
Nick Senzel is the team’s most potent producer against left-handers with a 1.196 OPS in 38 at-bats. Chicago is averaging only 3.4 runs per game in the last five, down from 4.6 for the season, with their slash line falling across the board (.200/.301/.331).
The Cubs have a .733 OPS against righties in 2023. With a .936 OPS over 134 at-bats, Ian Happ has been their best hitter against right-handers.
HOME AND AWAY
Cincinnati is 9-15 on the road in 2023, scoring 4.3 runs per game while allowing 4.5 runs. Chicago has lost three in a row at their home park.
The Cubs are 13-14 at home this season, averaging 4.6 runs per game while surrendering 4.4. In the last 10 games at Wrigley Field between the NL Central rivals, Chicago is 6-4 with an average scoreline of 5.7-4.4.
The Reds are fourth in the NL Central, four games behind the division-leading Brewers. The Cubs are fifth in the NL Central, four games behind the Brewers.
SportsTips’ MLB Pick:
Chicago Cubs (-165)
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of BetMGM.