Game: Chicago Cubs @ Houston Astros
Time: 8:10 p.m.
Odds: Cubs +170, Astros -185
The Houston Astros welcomed Yainer Diaz’s first career home run on Sunday. Injuries have decimated one of the best lineups in all of baseball. Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve remain sidelined with injuries as the Astros continue to look for answers on offense.
The Astros defeated the Chicago White Sox 4-3 in the third game of their weekend three-game series, and Houston finished their nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record thanks to Diaz’s solo shot in the fourth inning. Houston will now play host to the Chicago Cubs for the first game of a three-game series and six-game homestand that begins tonight.
Before making his major league debut in September of last year, Diaz spent five seasons and 340 games in the minors, hitting 52 home runs and compiling a .510 slugging percentage. Although Diaz had always been a much-hyped talent, it wasn’t until Sunday that he broke through in the majors.
On Sunday, Diaz served as the Astros’ designated hitter and he has filled in as Martin Maldonado’s backup at catcher. There has been considerable debate about how often Diaz will work behind the plate, with some calling for more chances to be a lineup staple.
For the Astros on Monday, left-hander Framber Valdez (3-4, 2.38 ERA) will get the start. He performed admirably in his previous start, a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on May 9 that included one run on three hits and 12 strikeouts over eight innings. With seven quality starts, Valdez is tied for the major league lead. Among American League pitchers, he ranks third in innings pitched (53) and sixth in ERA and strikeouts (57). Valdez will face the Cubs for the first time in his career. He has made 17 interleague starts and has an 8-6 record with a 3.41 ERA.
The Cubs are expected to face right-hander Jameson Taillon (0-2, 5.95). Last Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals, in the Cubs’ 6-4 loss, he had his shortest start of the year, giving up four runs on five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over 2.1 innings. In his second start since being reinstated from the 15-day disabled list on May 4, Taillon was not involved in the decision.
Taillon will face the Astros for the fourth time in his career. He is 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA against Houston. On July 11, 2021, he made his only start in Houston. Over six innings, he gave up two runs on three hits, including two home runs, two walks, and four strikeouts, but he had little bearing on the outcome of the New York Yankees’ 8-7 loss. Taillon is from the Houston area, having attended The Woodlands HS just north of the city.
The Cubs lost their second straight, a 16-3 rout, in the rubber game against Minnesota on Sunday. They had won the first game of the series in what is a three-city, nine-game road trip. The Cubs have lost five of their last seven games after being outscored 27-4 in the final two games of the series. The Cubs’ pitching rotation had a 3.36 ERA going into their last series but dropped to a 3.79 ERA after Sunday’s loss.
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