The Chicago Cubs are looking to bounce back from a big loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday.
The Cubs took an 18-4 hammering by the Bronx Bombers at Yankee Stadium on the back of an 8-0 defeat to boot, with their losing streak now extended to six games.
In fact, the Cubbies have only won one out of their last eight fixtures and sit in fourth place in the National League Central Division, 10 games back from leaders, the St Louis Cardinals.
The San Diego Padres sit just half a game back from the Los Angeles Dodgers in second place in a tightly-contested National League West Division.
Last year's Division winners, the San Francisco Giants, are three and a half games back from the Dodgers in third place.
The Padres come into this set of four fixtures at Wrigley Field having lost their last two games against the Colorado Rockies.
Despite home advantage the Cubs have endured a losing record at Wrigley Field (11-20) so far and are priced at 11/10 to win the game. The Padres have a 20-11 road record and are available at 10/13 to win on Monday night.
What: San Diego Padres vs Chicago Cubs Game 1 of 4.
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
When: 00.05 Tuesday 14th June, 2022
How to watch: MLB.TV
On the mound for the Cubs will be Justin Steele making his first ever start against the Padres. The left-handed pitcher has a 1-5 record this season with a 4.79 ERA.
His last start was against the Cardinals, where he went seven innings and gave up seven hits with one earned run.
The Padres will send up former Cub, Yu Darvish. The 35-year-old spent three seasons at Wrigley Field before being traded, along with catcher Victor Carantini, to the Padres in December 2020 in exchange for pitcher Zach Davies and four prospects.
Darvish has a 5-3 record this season with an ERA of 3.61. In his last start, Darvish pitched a seven-inning gem against the New York Mets, giving up only two hits and no runs.
There is no doubt that injuries have affected the Cubs this season, although missing roster players also gives opportunities to those that want an MLB career.
The shortfalls have seen most of their starting pitching injured at various point, with new injuries at that. Veteran Wade Miley has a left-shoulder strain and right-hander Marcus Stroman (right shoulder inflammation) have been sidelined along with Drew Smyly, (who is on the 15-day injured list) and right-hander Kyle Hendricks, although he is slated to start on Wednesday night.
Hendricks is coming back from arm fatigue and hasn't started since 1st June. Those injuries and uncertain timelines offer chances for pitchers such as Matt Swarmer and Keegan Thompson to show they deserve a top spot in the rotation and are considered long-term big league starters.
Swarmer and Thompson had the toughest of assignments against the Yankees at the weekend. Swarmer gave up six home runs in his Saturday start becoming the first Cub pitcher to give up that many homers since 1901.
Thompson didn't make it out of the first inning on Sunday in the 18-4 loss, giving up five runs (three earned) and walking three.
Speaking to the official Cubs website, team manager David Ross said: "It's all about getting opportunities and unfortunately things happen at this level, guys get hurt and guys have to come in and get their opportunity and make the most of it. That’s how you become a big leaguer."
The Padres are on their best start to a season in franchise history as they sit 37-24 and a game back from the Dodgers. And all this without superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.
The Padres had chances to go to the top spot when the Dodgers dropped two games against the Giants in San Francisco. The Padres won a double-header against the Rockies, but then proceeded to lose the next two, including a poor 4-2 loss on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking to the official Padres website, slugger Luke Voit said : "We just couldn't find a way. Give the guys credit, we stayed in the game the whole time. The ball just didn't go our way.
"Obviously you want the homestand to go a lot better than how it did, but we'll move on, we'll get ready for the Cubs."
Given the Cubs' pitching woes, the value lies with the Padres to win at 10/13.