When teams finish a long road trip with a getaway day game, managers tend to give a key player or two that game off. That's definitely the case Wednesday afternoon from San Diego as the Chicago Cubs close out a seven-game West Coast trip. They will be without MVP candidate Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras against Padres ace and Cy Young contender Yu Darvish – the former Cub. San Diego opened around -180 but has already jumped to -220 on the William Hill Sportsbook moneyline odds, and that number is still rising.
Baez missed the first two games of the series, in which the Cubs split, with a wrist injury suffered Sunday so no shock he's not in there. Baez is hitting .240 with 14 homers and 39 RBIs. It's simply a day off for Bryant and Contreras, and it allows Manager David Ross to get each two days off ahead of Friday's return to action at home vs. rival St. Louis – the first game this year the Cubs will be allowed 100 percent capacity at Wrigley Field.
Bryant ranks among National League leaders in total bases (4th, 122), OPS (4th, .959), extra-base hits (4th, 30), slugging (4th, .575), runs (5th, 40), batting average (6th, .307), RBIs (T-7th, 38), doubles (7th, 16), hits (8th, 65) and OBP (10th, .383). He is batting .304 with three homers and 12 RBIs in his past 17 games. It's certainly possible Bryant is used as a pinch-hitter.
Contreras is hitting .245 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs and is a terrific defender behind the plate – i.e., the Padres could run a lot Wednesday with PJ Higgins behind the plate.
Chicago starts Jake Arrieta (5-6, 5.26) on the mound. The former Cy Young winner had a 2.57 ERA in his first five outings, but it's 8.28 in his past six. Arrieta is 2-2 with a 5.25 ERA in 36 career innings vs. the Padres. That ERA is his second-highest vs. an NL opponent in his career (5.82 vs. Colorado).
Darvish was traded from the Cubs to the Padres this offseason for pitcher Zach Davies and prospects, and Darvish has been terrific at 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 84 strikeouts – San Diego has won 11 of his 12 starts. He didn't pitch when the Padres were at Wrigley from May 31-June 2. Darvish finished second to Trevor Bauer in the NL Cy Young voting last year and probably won't finish better than second this year behind heavy William Hill favorite Jacob deGrom (-170) of the Mets. Darvish is -1800.
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