The Chicago Cubs (63-59) look to keep pace in the tight NL Wild Card race as they square off with the Kansas City Royals (40-85) in the rubber match of their three-game weekend set. First pitch of Sunday’s matinee is set for 2:20 p.m. ET. Righty Jordan Lyles (3-13, 6.30 ERA) gets the ball for K.C. against Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 4.00).
The Cubs are just 5-5 in their last 10 games, but that’s still been good enough to cling to the third and final NL Wild Card spot as the teams around them continue to flounder. Sunday marks the end of their homestand, as they’ll head out on the road next week starting with three games against the Tigers in Detroit. The Royals have been surprisingly feisty at the plate of late, but their rotation has let them down amid seven losses in their last 10 games.
Chicago enters as heavy -218 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Royals at +180. The run total is set at 9.
Royals-Cubs picks: Sunday, August 20
Out: SP Brad Keller (right shoulder impingement), RP Taylor Clarke (right elbow inflammation), 1B Nick Pratto (left groin strain), SP Daniel Lynch (left shoulder strain), SP Zack Greinke (right posterior elbow soreness)
Out: SP Marcus Stroman (right rib cartilage fracture), RP Nick Burdi (appendectomy), RP Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation)
Jordan Lyles vs. Kyle Hendricks
Lyles has had a rough August so far, with a 7.23 ERA over three starts (running his season-long mark up to 6.30). He’s struggled against lefties in particular this year, allowing a slash line of .261/.322/.510, which could mean good things for Cubs lefties like Cody Bellinger, Ian Happ and Jeimer Candelario.
Shockingly enough, Kansas City actually has the fifth-best team OPS against right-handed pitching so far in August, with at least four runs scored in all but three games so far this month. If they keep that trend going, we should have no problem hitting this over, as Lyles doesn’t match up well with this Chicago lineup and has been lit up for 15 runs across three starts this month.
Pick: Over 9
Despite plenty of juice on the moneyline here, I’m still backing the Cubs as heavy home favorites in this spot. It’s just awfully hard to trust Lyles to keep the Royals in the game, while Hendricks has pitched very well against everyone not named the Braves recently and should have no problem at least churning out five or six decent innings.