We picked up another win last night, but it wasn’t easy! Last night we backed the Chicago Cubs, on the road as small favorites, against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds have been decimated by injuries already during this short season, and I felt that Jon Lester still had enough gas left in the tank to shut down what was left of this Reds lineup. So, I laid a little wood and felt like I was a big favorite.
When Jon Lester left the game after the fifth inning, he hadn’t allowed even a single hit, and the Cubs were up 6-0. They would eventually extend that lead to 7-0 before things started to get a bit dicey. After pulling Lester in the middle of a no-hitter with just 76 pitches thrown, which I guess is understandable considering all of the world load concerns teams are having this year, the bullpen really struggled.
A little drama and a big W.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 28, 2020
The Cubs bullpen got rocked for seven runs, as closer Craig Kimbrel completely imploded in the ninth inning. The Reds came roaring back and had narrowed the lead to 8-7 with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. Chicago pulled Kimbrel, who walked four guys while recording just a single out.
Luckily for us, Jeremy Jeffress was able to come in and slam the door, and our bet survived. It wasn’t easy, but it rarely is, and a winner is a winner. For today’s bet, we will stay right here in Cincinnati for game two between the Cubs and the Reds.
Chicago Cubs (3-1) at Cincinnati Reds (1-3)
The Chicago Cubs will look to make it two straight wins over their divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Reds tonight, after taking last night’s series opener 8-7 in a thriller. The Cubs have jumped out to a 3-1 record, with all three wins coming against the NL Central Division, and would love to take a two games to none series lead tonight, in game two of a four-game set.
For the Reds, they are left reeling as they have been brutalized by injuries and have lost three out of four games to start the season. Cincinnati will again be forced to play without several of their best players tonight at home.
Starting for the Cubs in game two is Alec Mills (0-0 0.00 ERA), and for the Reds, it is Tyler Mahle (0-0 0.00 ERA). The game total over/under is set at ten runs. The Reds are small home favorites at -105. First pitch is scheduled for 3:40 PM PST from Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
Despite the near collapse last night in the ninth inning, the Cubs have looked really good to start out the season. The bats are starting to swing hard as well as they have exploded for seventeen runs in the last two games. And somehow, they have managed this heavy run production, with most of their best hitters starting out the season slow. Anthony Rizzo is mashing as he has 3 home runs and 6 runs scored already, but besides him, the rest of the Cubs superstars are still waiting to find their groove.
Kris Bryant is hitting a dismal .059, Javier Baez is hitting .176, and Kyle Schwarber is slashing .214. If Chicago can get all of these established stars hitting at the same time, they could run away with the NL Central Division. I know its really early, but in a 60-game season, it’s never too early to start sweating the standings, and the Cubs are all alone in first place, and both the Brewers and Reds are tied for the worst record in the majors at 1-3.
Alec Mills (0-0 0.00 ERA)
Alec Mills has toiled in the Minor Leagues since 2012, with a couple of short stints in the show in 2016, 2018, and last year. He hasn’t done enough to establish himself as a regular everyday player, but when you look at his stats last year, he earned his spot n the roster for 2020. Mills was a late-season call-up and was blistering hot in September.
Last year down the stretch for Chicago, Mills pitched 15.2 innings and struck out 24 batters while posting a 1.15 ERA in September. Mills has always had hard to hit stuff as his lifetime K/9 ratio in the Big Leagues is 10.8, working both as a starter and out of the bullpen. In the minors, he has been able to strike out guys at an even higher rate in his 7+ years of pro ball. Expect a lot of Reds to swing and miss tonight.
When I wrote about the Cincinnati Reds yesterday, I did it almost feeling bad for them. After an offseason that saw them spend more money than they ever had before, they expected to be right in the hunt for the postseason in the National League this year. Only a week into the season, those hopes look to be dashed, as they just can’t stay healthy, and in a year where a slow start is going to be a killer, they are 1-3.
The Reds will again play tonight without starting positional players Mike Moustakas, Nick Senzel, and Matt Davidson. To make matters worse for the Reds, Moustakas was out to a hot start as he batted .500 with 4 hits in 8 at-bats, including a home run and 4 RBI. The heart of their lineup, a guy they just signed to the biggest free-agent contract in team history, is out with illness and isn’t expected to return to the team for at least another week.
Tyler Mahle (0-0 0.00 ERA)
The Reds have a really strong top of the rotation with Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, and Luis Castillo, but after those three guys, the Reds see a big drop off in production. Tyler Mahle is the number five starter and comes into this season looking for a way to rebound from last year, when he was dreadfully bad for the Reds.
Last year, in his second full season in the Reds rotation, Mahle went 3-12 with a 5.14 ERA. His big struggle is keeping the ball inside the ballpark, as he got blasted for 25 home runs in only 129.2 innings pitched in 2019. He was particularly bad in the second half of the season as he had an ERA north of six runs after the All-Star break. In two starts last year against the Cubs, his ERA was 5.73.
Who Do I Like?
Seeing the Reds get so close to a comeback last night and coming up just short, had to be demoralizing for the players. The clubhouse has to already be on edge with so many players on the IL, and when they rallied in the ninth, you could see the guys in the dugout showing signs of life for the first time this season. Then to lose like they did, it had to be a gut punch.
Strong teams for winning franchises know that times like these come and go. But the Reds don’t have that pedigree of winning, to rely on, and it wouldn’t shock me to see this team roll over and quit. Nobody would blame them at this point, as they are already playing shorthanded, and when you give a team a way out, the bad ones take it. If the Reds can’t find a way to win at least a game or two against Chicago in this series, you can go ahead and stick a fork in them, they are done.
Yesterday I had to lay a little wood to back Chicago, today I can back the Cubs and get dog money. While Tyler Mahle is the more established name, and that is likely why the Reds are attracting the public action, I think it is actually Mills who has the better stuff.
The near-meltdown last night scares me a little bit as this is the second time in a week that the Cubs bullpen got pounded, but the Cubs are the better team in this game, and I think that they will find a way to win. I expect a lot of runs going up on the board for both sides tonight, with the Cubs outslugging the Reds and taking a two-game series lead. Give me the Chicago Cubs as road underdogs tonight in game two at -105!