(Jeff Samardzija photo courtesy Cody Glenn/USA TODAY Sports)
This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Thursday, Aug. 22, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Ill., 2:20 p.m. EDT.
Homecomings are nice, but a victory for Jeff Samardzija would be more meaningful and helpful to the wild-card hopes for the San Francisco Giants.
The one-time Cubs pitcher again bids for this first victory at Wrigley Field as an opponent Thursday when the Giants try to avoid a three-game sweep by Chicago.
Samardzija looks to extend road winning streak
Samardzija (9-9, 3.54 ERA) has gone 3-2 with a 2.41 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break as San Francisco has remained in the thick of the wild-card chase and recorded quality starts in four of them.
The right-hander was in line for a victory Friday against Arizona when he departed after yielding two runs in 5 1-3 innings, but San Francisco’s bullpen squandered a 7-2 lead in the eighth before the Giants eventually won 10-9 in 11 innings.
Samardzija is no stranger to the Friendly Confines, having pitched collegiately and played football nearby at Notre Dame before pitching from the Cubs from 2008-14 and being dealt to the Oakland Athletics. Samardzija has made two visits as an opponent, with the most recent one a 5-1 loss in 2017 when he served up three solo homers in seven innings.
But he has been at his best of late outside San Francisco, going 5-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his last seven starts. Samardzija has held all but one opponent under two runs in that stretch and recorded 41 strikeouts in 44 innings.
The righty is 0-2 with a 6.35 ERA in three career starts versus the Cubs, with six home runs given up in 17 innings. Kris Bryant is 4 for 9 with a homer and a double versus Samardzija, and Jason Heyward is 3 for 16 with a pair of home runs.
Hendricks looking for run support after tough-luck outing
Kyle Hendricks (8-9, 3.37) has just one win in his last 10 starts and is 1-5 with a 3.96 ERA in that span. The right-hander has given up more than two runs just once in the last seven, but the Cubs have not provided him much help offensively with 12 runs in those games.
His overall run support average of 3.63 runs per start is the second-lowest mark in the majors, behind only Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (2.65).
Hendricks had nothing to show for a stellar outing versus Pittsburgh on Friday, holding the Pirates to one run and three hits over seven innings as he bounced back from his worst start of 2019. He was in line for a victory after the Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the eighth, only to see the bullpen collapse in the ninth for a 3-2 loss.
The righty has been tough on NL West opponents at home, going 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts. Hendricks may only be 4-2 at Wrigley Field but he has a 1.98 ERA there in 10 outings while holding opposing hitters to a .194 batting average.
He is 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts against the Giants at home, with four of the six runs scoring on three home runs over 19 1-3 innings. Hendricks is 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA in seven lifetime matchups with San Francisco.
Deadline day acquisition Nicholas Castellanos continued his outstanding run in Wednesday night’s 12-11 victory, going 4 for 5 with a homer in three RBIs. He has homered in three straight games and is hitting .392 with eight homers in 19 games since arriving from Detroit.
Castellanos, who is 7 for 10 in this series, is just 1 for 12 with four strikeouts against Samardzija.
The Cubs are:
- 11-5 in Hendricks’ last 16 home starts.
- 10-2 in Hendricks’ last 12 Thursday starts.
- 17-5 in their last 22 home games vs. the Giants.
The Giants are:
- 13-32 in their last 45 games vs. starters with a sub-1.15 WHIP.
- 7-19 in Samardzija’s last 26 road starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 17-36 in their last 53 during game 3 of a series.
UNDER 4 runs first 5 innings (-121)
Both pitchers are riding strongly with the under. The five-inning under is 6-2-1 in Samardzija’s last nine starts, and the two that went over happened because the Giants racked up 19 runs while the right-hander did not allow any.
The under is also 8-1-1 in Hendricks’ 10 starts at Wrigley in 2019 and 7-1-1 in his last nine overall since coming off the injured list in early July. This is a contrarian pick in the sense the five-inning over is 4-0-1 in head-to-head matchups this year, but both pitchers are coming off solid outings and have excellent forms in their respective roles.
Cubs -1.5 runs (+105)
The Cubs continue to be a Jekyll-and-Hyde team when it comes to their contrasting home and road forms and have 15 wins in their last 18 games at Wrigley after Wednesday night’s wild affair. It was the kind of resilient win that can spark a team to do bigger things, and with Chicago at home to try and build on it, the Cubs are the pick here.
While Samardzija’s road form has been impressive, a closer look shows that only one team — Philadelphia — is above .500 and another — Arizona — is .500. Additionally, Hendricks has been a stellar pitcher at home and should be able to deny Samardzija his first win on the North Side in a visiting uniform.
UNDER 7.5 runs (-115)
It is challenging to take the under when the number is 8 or less, but both pitchers’ respective forms offer enough confidence to believe in the pick — especially with the wind not blowing out like it did Wednesday night.
The under has trended well in this series, going 9-3-2 in the last 14 at Chicago and 7-4-1 in the last 12 overall. It is also 5-1-1 in Hendricks’ last seven matchups with San Francisco and 6-2 in his last eight facing NL West teams. The Giants are also 4-1 in their last five games when the over/under has been set at 7.5 runs or lower.
Samardzija has helped deliver the under in four of his last five starts and in four straight against above-.500 teams. The under is 16-8-1 in the Giants’ previous 25 games and 11-5 in the last 16 facing teams with winning records.
Javy Baez to have 2 or more hits (+121)
Baez is worth a flyer here as he carries a 13-game home hitting streak into this contest. The All-Star is hitting .412 (21 for 51) in that stretch, and crucial to this pick, has recorded six multihit games.
The shortstop is only a .216 lifetime hitter versus the Giants but had a pair of multihit games in San Francisco last month. Baez is only 0 for 3 against Samardzija, so there is no back history to affect this pick negatively.
Cubs -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-131)
This is a form pick with Hendricks, who has helped the Cubs to a 7-2-1 mark at the midway point in his 10 home starts. Chicago is also 12-3-2 in its last 17 at Wrigley Field, while San Francisco is 4-8-2 after five innings in its last 14 on the road.
The Cubs are also 4-0-1 in the five games between the teams this year.
Cubs 3-way ML first inning (+270)
Hendricks has not given up a first-inning run in his five day starts at Wrigley, but what makes the Cubs worth the chance here are them plating a first-inning run in their last four games versus San Francisco and the Giants giving up a run in the opening frame of their last five contests overall.
Samardzija has been reached for first-inning runs twice in seven starts during his road winning streak and has a 5.40 ERA in the opening inning.