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Chicago Cubs (102-58) at Cincinnati Reds (68-93)
Sunday, October 02 - 3:10 PM EST
Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
Not much will be on the line when the Cincinnati Reds host the Chicago Cubs in the regular-season finale Sunday, but the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks has something to play for. Hendricks will try to hold onto the best ERA in the majors as he makes his final tune-up before the National League Division Series.
The Cubs already know they’ll be the top seed in the NL playoffs and await the winner of the wild-card game, but right-hander's quest for the ERA crown gives them something to strive for in the finale. Anything short of a disaster should clinch the majors’ best ERA for Hendricks, as teammate Jon Lester is second and his ERA rose to 2.44 after taking the loss in Saturday’s 7-4 defeat. Hendricks has won his last four road starts and hasn’t lost away from Wrigley Field since July 26. The Cubs are 14-4 against the Reds this season and have outscored Cincinnati 136-65.
TV: 3:10 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 1.99 ERA) vs. Reds RH Robert Stephenson (2-3, 6.27)
Hendricks pushed his ERA below 2.00 with six scoreless innings Monday at Pittsburgh, limiting the Pirates to seven hits to win for the fifth time in six starts. The 26-year-old hasn’t allowed more than two runs since July 26, a span of 10 straight quality starts. Hendricks is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA in seven starts against the Reds.
Stephenson has struggled since his September call-up, allowing at least four runs in four of his five starts while making it through five innings just twice. The 23-year-old didn’t get out of the fourth inning when he faced the Cubs on Sept. 21, as he allowed four runs and eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. He has surrendered nine home runs in seven big-league starts, including at least one in each of his last five outings.
1. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo has hit safely in 12 straight games against the Reds.
2. Reds 1B Joey Votto, who is 6-for-8 with two homers versus Hendricks, is batting .411 since the All-Star break and poised to become the first player to hit better than .400 after the break since Ichiro Suzuki in 2004.
3. The Cubs have hit a home run in 11 straight games at Great American Ball Park, where they have blasted 24 homers this season.
PREDICTION: Cubs 6, Reds 4