By Justin Gonzalez
Pick: Cubs -135
The Cincinnati Reds (18-23) and Chicago Cubs (24-14) will begin a three-game series when they square off at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.
The Cubs have not lost a series in more than a month and now hope to take advantage of the last-place Reds. Chicago has not dropped a set since losing two of three at Milwaukee from April 5-7 and is coming off an important series victory over the Brewers that extended the National League Central division lead to two games. The Cubs have won five of their last six games and 12 of their last 14.
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (2-4, 3.19 ERA) will be taking the mound for Chicago on Tuesday. Hendricks has been outstanding in his last two starts, allowing one unearned run over 17.0 innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks. The 29-year-old has been efficient; after an 81-pitch shutout against St. Louis on May 3, he needed only 96 pitches to get through 8.0 innings last Wednesday against Miami.
Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.27 ERA) will oppose Hendricks on Tuesday. The right-hander has posted quality starts in each of his last two outings, winning both. He threw 6.0 shutout innings in his start at Oakland after limiting San Francisco to two runs over 6.2 innings in his previous appearances. Roark is 5-2 with a 3.77 ERA in eight games (seven starts) against the Cubs.
Chicago shortstop Javier Baez is 17-for-45 with seven doubles and two homers during an 11-game hitting streak. Baez and plenty of others in the lineup are in fine form, while Hendricks has heated up on the mound. Thus there is no reason to think that the Cubs will suddenly slow down. Cincinnati is 25-54 in the last 79 meetings between the two teams. The Cubs are 6-0 in their last six on the road against right-handed starters, 8-1 in their last nine against starters with WHIPs over 1.30, 6-1 in their last seven against losing opponents, 7-3 in their last 10 series openers, and 5-0 in their last five following an off day.
Take the Cubs at a relatively cheap price.