The Philadelphia Phillies try to avoid a two-game losing streak when they take on the Chicago Cubs in the last of a four-game series Thursday night. The series finale is scheduled for an 8 p.m. ET first pitch at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies had a two-game winning streak snapped with an 8-3 loss to the Cubs Wednesday night. Philadelphia is 41-43 and in fourth place in the NL East standings, percentage points behind the third-place Atlanta Braves and a half-game behind the second-place Washington Nationals.
Chicago snapped an 11-game losing streak with Wednesday’s win, improving to 43-44. The Cubs are in third place in the NL Central, trailing the second-place Cincinnati Reds by 2½ games and leading the fourth-place St. Louis Cardinals by a half-game.
MLB odds have the Cubs with a moneyline of -113, while the Phillies are listed at +103. The over/under is set at 7½ runs.
The Phillies’ offense can be a little hit or miss, as shown by the last four games. On Sunday against San Diego, Philadelphia scored one run in a loss, but in the opening two games against Chicago, the Phillies averaged 14 runs. That was followed by three runs in Wednesday’s loss.
Outfielder Andrew McCutchen had a home run and two RBIs, his second straight game with a home run. The 34-year-old has 15 home runs, putting him five away from his high since leaving Pittsburgh after the 2017 season. He had 20 home runs in 155 combined games with the Giants and Yankees in 2018.
McCutchen has 48 RBIs and a team-high 46 runs scored while batting .233.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins leads the Phillies with 20 doubles, 20 home runs and 53 RBIs. He had home runs in the first two games of the series before going 0-for-4.
Right-hander Zack Eflin will be on the mound. The 27-year-old is 3-6 with a 4.13 ERA, striking out 89 and walking 13 in 96 innings.
Eflin won his last start, going six innings against San Diego on Saturday and allowing two runs on three hits, including a home run while striking out two and walking two. That was an improvement from his four starts in June, in which he went 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
Finally A Win
It doesn’t solve all of the Cubs’ problems — or turn around management’s possible thoughts of being a seller at the trade deadline — but the team’s win Wednesday was a relief. After 11 straight losses, the tension and frustration were building for Chicago, which dropped from first place in the NL Central to fourth.
“It feels good,” Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after Wednesday’s win. “We’re at the highest level of the game, and we’re competitors, and we all compete at everything. You lose 11 in a row or 10 or whatever, and it just sucked. To win is a good feeling. It’s the feeling you want.”
Right-hander Adbert Alzolay will be on the mound. The 26-year-old is 4-8 with a 4.48 ERA, striking out 76 and walking 21 in 72⅓ innings.
Alzolay has been better at Wrigley Field this season, going 3-2 with a 3.86 ERA compared to a 1-6 mark and 5.06 ERA in road games. He has struggled in his last four starts, three on the road, as he’s lost them all with a 7.13 ERA. He’s allowed at least three earned runs in all four games and given up two home runs in each of his last three starts.
Wednesday’s win may have come at a cost, as third baseman Kris Bryant left in the fourth with hamstring tightness. He’s considered day-to-day with the injury. Bryant has a team-best .268 batting average and a team-best 16 doubles and 50 runs scored this season, adding 16 home runs and 43 RBIs.
Shortstop Javier Baez got a day off Wednesday but had hit three home runs and drove in six runs in the first two games of the series. Baez leads the Cubs with 21 home runs and 56 RBIs, scoring 41 times and batting .234.
Cubs Earn Split
Chicago’s losing streak was surprising because of all of the offensive talent it has in its lineup. Even if Bryant can’t go, the Cubs should be able to ride the good feeling of Wednesday night to a win in the finale.
When making your MLB picks, take Chicago to get the win at home.