MLB Regular Season

Matchup: San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs

Date/Time: August 7, 8:10 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Chris Heston (11-5, 3.24) vs. Jason Hammel (6-5, 3.13)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Chicago -130

Total: N/A

On a light night of games, far and away the top pitching matchup is the one on the North Side of Chicago between Chris Heston and Jason Hammel. The visiting San Francisco Giants open up a four-game weekend set at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs with this matchup of two right-handers that have a really good feel for pitching. This is the start of 17 straight games in Chicago for the Cubs, whose only set of road games before August 25 are against the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox.

The San Francisco Giants and the Chicago Cubs will be battling it out for a wild card spot the rest of the season. With the Pittsburgh Pirates currently in the driver’s seat for the top wild card spot, the Giants and Cubs are separated by a half-game for the second one. The Giants have a one-game lead in the win column, so this is a crucial weekend set between these two teams. The Giants, of course, have been in the thick of a playoff race before. This is new territory for a lot of Cubs players and they have struggled in big series this season to date. Will that impact this weekend? It will be fun to watch.

Chris Heston is having a phenomenal rookie season and has a real chance at the NL Rookie of the Year. The 27-year-old was a little bit of a late bloomer, but now that he’s in the big leagues full-time, he has been outstanding for the Giants. Heston is 11-5 with a 3.24 ERA, 3.22 FIP, and 3.55 xFIP. He has one of the top ground ball rates in the National League and has a no-hitter to his name, a tremendous start at Citi Field against the New York Mets on June 9.

Heston hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game since his June 2 start against the Pittsburgh Pirates that came right before the no-hitter. On the other hand, since the no-hitter, Heston has been pretty fortunate. He only has 35 strikeouts over 56.2 innings with 47 hits allowed and 19 walks. There may be some regression coming in his 76.1 percent LOB%, but ground ball pitchers get double play balls and the Giants are a solid defensive ballclub. The Cubs are just 24th in wOBA over the last 30 days at .299 and rank 24th in wOBA against righties at .299. Theoretically, this should be a pretty good matchup for Heston, who, like most Giants pitchers, does have a significantly higher ERA away from AT&T Park.

Jason Hammel left his July 8 start against the Cardinals with some hamstring discomfort after one inning. He didn’t pitch again until July 21 and looked a little bit out of sync, even though he only allowed one earned run over five innings. He gave up six runs on eight hits over 3.2 innings in his next start to the Phillies and then lasted 5.2 against the Brewers on July 31 with one run allowed on six hits. I read some stuff about how Hammel has looked since the hamstring injury and scouts had some mixed reports. Considering how dominant Hammel was earlier in the season, there may be some credence to these observations.

On the year, Hammel has a 3.13 ERA, 3.27 FIP, and a 3.35 xFIP. His control rates are outstanding and his command has been pretty good overall. Recently, Hammel fell below a strikeout per inning on the season, with 116 punchouts over 118 innings of work. The development of his slider has allowed him to dominant right-handed batters, but the Giants lineup has a good amount of balance this season. He can be a tough at bat for teams that don’t see him often with 36.8 percent slider usage and a two-seamer that rates well above average. As it has always been, the major questions are health-related for Hammel. Will the extra day off between starts help him in this one?

MLB Prediction: San Francisco Giants

It might, but the value lies with the Giants in this one. The betting market jumped on Hammel on the overnight lines, but I’m not sure that’s the right move. Per reports, he has looked like a shell of himself since the hamstring flared up and the Giants are not a team that you want to pitch at less than 100 percent against. The Cubs offense is full of big names and promise, but they haven’t performed lately and that has to be a concern for Cubs backers.