The Cubs lead the series 2-0 after winning 2-1 on Tuesday. Julian Merryweather threw one scoreless inning in relief to get the win, and Adbert Alzolay threw two scoreless innings to pick up his second save.
Ian Happ went 2 for 3 with a double and one run in the win. Mike Tauchman added one RBI on two hits. Randy Arozarena was 1 for 3 with one RBI for the Rays.
ON THE MOUND
Zach Eflin (7-1, 3.17 ERA) is slated to get the start for Tampa Bay. The right-hander is tied for second in the AL in wins. Eflin allowed one run over seven innings in his last start, a 6-3 home win over the Blue Jays on Thursday.
He earned the win, yielding six hits and walking two. LHP Justin Steele (6-2, 2.77 ERA) will toe the rubber for Chicago. It’s his first appearance of the season against the Rays. Steele made one start against the Rays in 2022, throwing 2.2 innings in a 6-5 home defeat on April 19.
He gave up three hits and walked three, while striking out one in the loss. In his last start on Friday, Steele took the loss at home against the Reds. He threw 3.2 innings and gave up six runs (5 ER) on 10 hits, striking out four, in the 9-0 defeat. The LHP is tied for second in the NL in wins and tied for fourth in ERA.
AT THE PLATE
Over the last five games, Tampa Bay has averaged 5.2 runs a game, a small drop compared to their season average of 5.9. Against southpaws like Steele this season, the Rays have a .956 OPS, highest in the league. Wander Franco is the team’s strongest performer against left-handers with a 1.064 OPS in 40 at-bats.
Chicago is averaging only 2.6 runs per game in the last five, down from 4.5 for the season, with their slash line slipping across the board (.197/.282/.289). The Cubs have a .727 OPS against righties in 2023. With a .887 OPS over 144 at-bats, Happ has been their best hitter against right-handers.
HOME AND AWAY
Tampa Bay is on a four-game losing streak in road games, bringing their record to 13-12 in 2023. The Rays have scored 5.8 runs per game away from home, while allowing 4.0 runs. Chicago has gone 15-15 at their home ballpark this season, averaging 4.4 runs per game while surrendering 4.3.
The teams have split their last 10 meetings head-to-head at Wrigley Field, though Tampa Bay has the scoring advantage with an average final margin of 3.6-3.2.
The Rays lead the AL East by three games over the Orioles. The Cubs are fourth in the NL Central, four games behind the Brewers.
SportsTips’ MLB Pick:
TB Rays (-135)
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of BetMGM.