After winning an impressive series against the Atlanta Braves over the weekend, the streaking Chicago Cubs (58-54) now continue their NL East tour as they kick off a road trip with three games against the New York Mets (50-61) this week. First pitch of Monday’s series opener is set for 7:10 p.m. ET from Citi Field. Chicago will send lefty Drew Smyly (8-7, 4.71 ERA) to the mound while New York counters with new de facto ace Kodai Senga (7-6, 3.25).
The Cubs took two of three from the league-leading Braves at Wrigley over the weekend and have now won five of six since the trade deadline and 15 of their last 19 overall. They’ve now vaulted up into the third and final NL Wild Card spot over the Reds and are just 1.5 games back of the Brewers for the lead in the NL Central as they embark on a six-game road trip split between New York and Toronto. The Mets, meanwhile, are just playing out the string after shipping off Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and just about everything else that wasn’t nailed down last week.
New York enters as narrow -115 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Chicago at -105. The run total is set at 8.5.
Cubs-Mets picks: Monday, August 7
Out: SP Marcus Stroman (hip)
Day-to-day: OF Brandon Nimmo (quad), OF Starling Marte (migraines)
Out: 2B Luis Guillorme (calf)
Drew Smyly vs. Kodai Senga
Smyly started the 2023 season strong but has been shaky for over two months now, with a 6.75 ERA dating back to May 28. The lefty is more or less a two-pitch pitcher, alternating between a fastball and curveball. That means his command has to be on for him to have success, and he simply hasn’t been sharp of late, with at least four runs allowed in six of his last eight starts.
With Verlander and Scherzer gone, Senga is now the default ace of this Mets staff, and the former NPB star has pitched very well overall in his first season in the Majors. When he’s getting his forkball down and out of the zone, he can be darn near unhittable, but unfortunately his feel for the pitch can come and go. That was the case in his last outing, when he gave up a whopping 11 hits and three runs over 5.2 innings in a loss to the Kansas City Royals — the first time he’d allowed more than two earned runs in a start since June 17.
Senga is a formidable opponent, but this Cubs offense has been absolutely rolling of late — with Jeimer Candelario in tow, Chicago has scored five or more runs in six of their last seven games, including a combined 14 over their two wins this weekend. Combine that production with Smyly’s shakiness (and a Mets offense that does still have Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor) and this one’s ticketed for the over.
Pick: Over 8.5
I want to ride Senga here over the unreliable Smyly, but there’s frankly an immense vibes gap between these two teams right now. Chicago has among the hottest and deepest lineups in baseball right now, while the Mets are relying on the likes of D.J. Stewart and Rafael Ortega. Smyly may struggle again, but I like the Cubs to score just enough to win as narrow ‘dogs.