Chicago Cubs vs. Luis Cessa (5.18 ERA), Cincinnati Reds
The Cubs are a team that has really come on strong in the second half of the season, and I really have been enjoying playing them as of late. They have a decent offense that is highlighted by Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ and Patrick Wisdom, and all of those guys can really hurt you if you don't have the good stuff on the mound. The Reds probably won't have that in this one when they send Luis Cessa out there to pitch once again.
In his last start, Cessa did not factor into the decision against the Rockies, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four and walking two across five innings. He tossed 43 of 69 pitches for strikes across five innings, which is his longest outing of the year. The performance actually improved his ERA to where it now sits at 5.18, but I wouldn't bet on that being the norm. He's a bullpen guy that they have out there because they don't have any other good options.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Josiah Gray (4.91 ERA), Washington Nationals
The Cardinals have one of the more potent offenses in baseball this season, led by who very well could be future NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They can put up runs in a hurry, and they have already jumped way out ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers now for the division crown, but still need more wins to secure their title. Playing Josiah Gray and Washington should help them out quite a bit.
In his last start, Gray took the loss, coughing up six runs on six hits and four walks over five innings as the Nationals were whipped 7-3 by the Mets. He struck out two. It's the sixth time in his last nine starts Gray has served up multiple homers to opposing players, and he carries a shaky 6.08 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 3.4 HR/9 and 54:22 K-to-BB through 47.1 innings over that stretch.
Miami Marlins vs. Kyle Gibson (4.48 ERA), Philadelphia Phillies
It very well could be unwise to choose the Marlins here to do much of anything on offense, as they are literally the worst team in baseball at putting up runs, but we're just going to hope Philadelphia starter Kyle Gibson has a bad day and we can grab the win here. With a short slate, there aren't many other options to go with besides the inconsistent arm of Gibson.
In his last start, he took the loss, allowing seven runs on five hits and four walks over 1.2 innings in a 13-1 loss to the Giants. He struck out two. After a 40-pitch first inning, Gibson walked a couple more in the second before Joc Pederson took him deep with a three-run homer. In total, he needed 65 pitches to record five outs. Gibson had been on a nice run coming into Friday's game, posting a 2.41 ERA over his previous six starts, but this was a reminder of the inconsistency and downside we've seen with him.