The National League Central champion Chicago Cubs get their final tune-up for the playoffs when they wrap up the regular season against the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. The Cubs have won 30 of their last 40 meetings with the Reds, including 12 of 18 this year.
Chicago has claimed the first two games of the series after a 9-0 rout on Saturday in which Kyle Schwarber and Rene Rivera each homered and combined for seven RBIs. The Cubs have won eight straight home contests, four in a row overall and 15 of their last 18 to move a season-high 23 games above .500. Cincinnati will finish last in the NL Central for the third consecutive season and needs a win on Sunday to match last year’s total of 68 victories. The Reds have lost 10 of their last 11 games.
TV: 3:20 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Deck McGuire (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Mike Montgomery (7-8, 3.45)
McGuire made his first major-league start Tuesday at Milwaukee and was tagged for six runs - four earned - in three innings. The 28-year-old had allowed only two hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings over four relief appearances prior to the loss. McGuire went 9-9 with a 2.79 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) at Double-A Pensacola this season.
Montgomery has been a valuable swing man for the Cubs, and he will make another spot start so Jake Arrieta can rest his lingering hamstring injury. The 28-year-old is 5-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 13 starts this season and gave up just one hit – a solo homer – over six innings in his last turn on Sept. 19 at Tampa Bay. Montgomery is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 10 career appearances (two starts) against the Reds.
1. Schwarber and Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo are the first pair of left-handed hitters in franchise history to hit 30 home runs in the same season.
2. Reds 1B Joey Votto has reached base 319 times, tying the franchise record he set in 2015, and has done so in 31 straight games and 60 of his last 61.
3. Chicago OF Albert Almora Jr. is 9-for-14 with four doubles, a triple, a homer, and 10 RBIs in his last seven home contests.
PREDICTION: Cubs 7, Reds 5