The Chicago Cubs have not had their heart-and-soul, three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove-winning first-baseman Anthony Rizzo, in the starting lineup since last Tuesday due to some back spasms, but Rizzo is expected to be in there Tuesday as the Cubs host the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of their series. Chicago is a slight -111 favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook MLB odds behind Kyle Hendricks; he'll be opposed by Friars lefty Ryan Weathers.
Rizzo, who is set for free agency after this season – North Siders would revolt if he's not re-signed – is batting .258 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 46 games. Interesting that the Cubs opted to go a week essentially down a roster spot by not putting Rizzo on the injured list but also not using him. Rizzo said Tuesday that he is feeling "a lot better" and expects to return to the lineup after participating in running drills and taking grounders before Monday's game, which the Cubs won 7-2 in a minor upset.
Chicago was a stellar 19-8 on MLB picks in May, only the eighth time since 1901 that the franchise won more than 18 games in that month. The Cubs also have won each of their last five series to take over first place in the NL Central by a half-game over St. Louis. Chicago is 15-5 in its past 20 at home and has outscored opponents by 49 runs in that stretch.
The pitching staff was terrific in May and the ace Hendricks (5-4, 4.63) was a big part of that as he takes the mound. He has lowered his ERA from 7.54 to 4.63 over his last five starts, going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA during that stretch. Over his last three, Hendricks has a 2.08 ERA with 17 strikeouts and just one walk.
He is 6-2 with a 2.86 ERA in nine career starts vs. San Diego, including 2-1 with a 2.78 ERA in five home starts. Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. is 1-for-3 off Hendricks career. Eric Hosmer is 3-for-13 with a homer.
The Padres have lost back-to-back games for the first time since May 7-8. They go with the southpaw Weathers (2-1, 1.31), who has been very good. The former reliever hasn't gone more than four innings in his past three, though, since returning to the rotation. It will be his first-ever look at the Cubs.
While Rizzo hasn't faced Weathers, he's a .285 career hitter vs. San Diego with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 179 at-bats.
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