Saturday MLB Preview – Reds at Cubs

The Reds must remain focused on the task at hand, as they may look ahead to next week’s series against the Cardinals.

Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati has turned the tide against the Cubs this season, blanking them 3-0 at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.  The Reds are now 8-3 against them this season, after tallying a disappointing 5-10 mark in 2009.  At 62-48, the club is a season-high 14 games over .500 after winning five of their past six games, including a 4-1 mark on this road trip.  The team must remain focused over the next two games and not look ahead to a three-game series against the Cardinals starting Monday.  “I can’t put too much importance on St. Louis because they’re not here yet,” manager Dusty Baker said.  “You have to win games now before we get there.”  The pitching staff has posted a 3.01 ERA since June 17, which is the second-best mark in the majors over that span, behind only the White Sox (2.87).  Cincinnati is 20-18 in day games this season (-50) and the total is 11-22 O/U in those contests.  The Reds are also 3-4 this season (-170) and 11-14 the last three years after shutting out an opponent (-140).

Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez is 2-1 with a 6.35 ERA in four starts this season, but is coming off a solid outing last time out.  He picked up a 2-1 home victory over the first place Braves, giving up a single run and three hits over five innings of work.  Cincinnati has provided the right-hander with 23 runs of support in 2010 thus far.  He has made just one forgettable start away from the Great American Ball Park, giving up four runs and six hits over just 3.2 frames, but the Reds picked up a 12-4 win against the Brewers.  In two daytime starts, Volquez is an even 1-1 with a 8.59 ERA, issuing nine walks and striking out 10 in 7.1 innings.

Chicago has lost eight of its last nine games and have scored two runs or fewer in five of its last nine games.  “It’d be nice to go out there and really play inspired baseball,” outfielder Marlon Byrd said.  “But when you’re not winning and things aren’t going your way, it’s real tough.”  The offense has managed to hit .297 with 19 home runs in its last 11 home games since July 18.  Chicago is 28-30 at home this season (-1,320) and the total is 26-29 O/U in those games.  At Wrigley Field, the club is averaging 4.5 runs per game and hitting for a combined .270 average, which is 12 points higher than their season mark.  The Cubs are 4-3 after getting shutout this season (+80), while posting a dismal 29-42 mark against right-handed starters (-1,940).

Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells is 5-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 22 starts this season and is coming in on a two-game losing streak.  In those contests, Chicago was outscored 26-2, with him allowing 10 runs (nine earned) and 15 hits over 9.2 innings.  The right-hander has produced a 3-4 record and 4.20 ERA in 12 home starts this year.  In five career outings versus the Reds, Wells is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA, while issuing just eight walks in 31.1 frames.  He brings a 4-4 record and 4.30 ERA into his 13th daytime start compared to a 1-5 mark and 4.50 ERA at night.

Bettors must be aware of the Reds 17-4 mark in Volquez’s last 21 road starts despite this being only his fifth start of the season.  Chicago is 4-1 in Wells’ five career starts against one of their NL Central rivals.

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