In the month of September, when the Cubs have really needed him, Kyle Hendricks has stepped up in a major way. Entering play yesterday, Hendricks had been light’s out in the regular season’s final month of play, as in two starts, he was 2-0 with an ERA just above one run. So, when I saw that I could back Hendricks and his Cubs at a very reasonable price yesterday, in their game against the Milwaukee Brewers, I jumped all over it.
I expected Hendricks to find a way to shut the Brewers down and carry his team to a much-needed win. The Cubs weak hitting lineup, particularly recently, did scare me a little bit, but at the end of the day, I figured that Chicago knew they needed this game badly, and that they would do just enough to take care of business.
Hendricks was as good as expected as he worked into the eighth inning and gave up only two earned runs. The problem for Chicago was that their lineup was, again, very stagnant, and heading into the ninth inning, they still hadn’t scored a run. So, despite a strong outing from Hendricks, it looked like we were going to take a hard-luck loss.
Hope you stuck around.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 13, 2020
When Milwaukee called on closer Josh Hader to slam the door shut in the ninth, things didn’t look good for our bet. But when Jason Heyward smashed a three-run bomb off Hader in the ninth, we backdoored an improbable late-inning comeback winner. We have certainly had more than our fair share of late-game run bad in the last two weeks, so to steal a game like this feels great.
The win was a huge one for Chicago, as they remain three games up on second-place St. Louis, as the Cardinals won yesterday as well, and are now five games up on Milwaukee. If the Cubs can pick up the win today in the series finale, they will all but eliminate the Brewers from the division title race with just over two weeks left in the regular season. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will stay right here in Milwaukee, as the Cubs and Brewers close out their three-game set.
Chicago Cubs (27-20) at Milwaukee Brewers (20-23)
The Chicago Cubs are in Milwaukee Sunday for game three of a three-game series with the Brewers, looking to lock down a playoff spot. This series is split at one game apiece as the Brewers took game one, and the Cubs battled back to tie up the series last night with a dramatic late-inning come from behind victory in game two. If the Cubs can knock off the Brewers today in the series finale, they would hold a six-game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central Division race.
For Milwaukee, the Brewers must win today at home if they want any chance at the postseason. The NL wild-card race is a crazy one, with several teams in the hunt, and the Brewers just can’t afford to drop another game if they want a realistic shot at playing past September.
Starting today for the Brewers is Adrian Houser (1-4 5.48 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Alec Mills (4-3 4.73 ERA). The game total over/under is set at ten runs. The Brewers are -130 home field favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 11:10 AM PST from Miller Park in Milwaukee.
The Chicago Cubs had to have the win last night, and they got it. The continued lack of production at the plate was concerning, but at the end of the day, the Cubs stars found a way to get the job done. That ninth-inning rally was led by Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who both singled early in the inning, and finished off by Jason Hayward, who played the hero with a three-run jack to take the lead off one of the best closers in the game.
All season long, just when it looks like the Cubs are going to give up their first-place lead, they do something like they did last night and find a way to hang onto the division lead. I mentioned in my pick yesterday that this team keeps playing with fire, and somehow, they have yet to get burned.
A win tonight would all but lock up a playoff spot for Chicago, as they would have a six-game lead over Milwaukee for second place in the central. Even if Chicago stumbled down the stretch and let the Cardinals past them for first place, the Cubbies would still be playing in the postseason with a second-place finish. This one means a lot, and they know it.
Alec Mills (4-3 4.73 ERA)
Alec Mills started out his season, looking like he was going to be very good for Chicago this year. After posting stellar results last year in limited action split between the Cubs bullpen and starting rotation, Mills earned a spot as a regular starter this year, and through his first two starts of the year, he was 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA.
Mills struggled some after that hot start, as he allowed at least three earned runs in each of his next five starts. But in his last outing, he was back on point, as he pitched six shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds. Getting Mills back into form is going to be big for the Cubs as they look to take home the division title.
The Brewers were starting to sneak up on people in the National League, as they had closed the gap in the center to just four games, and in the wild card to just a game. But after last night’s loss, they would have to nearly win out to catch Chicago for the division title. But when you look at the wild card race, if they win today, they will still have some sweat.
The Brewers are a game and a half back of the Miami Marlins for the final wild card in the NL and two games back of the San Francisco Giants for the other wild card slot. Milwaukee will have to contend with the Rockies, Mets, and Reds for those final two spots as well, as all of these teams are bunched up within three games of each other.
Adrian Houser (1-4 5.48 ERA)
Similar to Alec Mills, Adrian Houser looked great in July and early August. After Houser’s first two starts of the season, he was 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA. But since then, he has been getting lit up, as he has allowed 25 earned runs in his last six starts combined, and the Brewers have lost four out of those six games. In September, Houser has been particularly bad, as he is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in two starts and has allowed ten earned runs.
Who Do I Like?
For some reason, the Brewers have been favored nearly every time that Adrian Houser has pitched this season. After his hot start to the year, he has regularly been laying wood each time out. And while he sure did look great early, he was not expected to be an elite pitcher coming into this season and has been awful lately.
I have successfully faded Houser and the Brewers several times recently, and I am shocked to see that the books aren’t adjusting. To see the Brewers as favorites in this game is very surprising. Milwaukee has trailed the Cubs in the standings the entire season, and by just about every way that we can measure a team’s success, the Cubs are the better team.
I would lean towards Alec Mills being the better side of the starting pitching matchup, particularly given that Houser has really struggled this month, and Mills is coming off of his best start of the year in his last outing. Even if you wanted to make a case that the starting pitching matchup was a wash, and to be honest, it isn’t far off of being dead even, I am not sure you could ever convince me that the Brewers are the better overall team.
So, you are telling me that I can get the better overall team, and the better side of the starting pitching matchup, and I can pick up some dog money by doing it? Yeah, I’ll bite. The Cubs lineup has been disappointing, to say the least. But Adrian Houser has given up eighteen runs in his last four starts combined, in games against poor hitting teams like the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
The ’27 Yankees they are not, but this Cubs team is at least as good at the dish as those teams, and I would expect that they find a way to bust out of their recent slump and score some runs in this one. The loss last night had to have been a gut punch for Milwaukee, and with Chicago smelling blood in the water, I see them winning this one today and ending the Brewers NL Central dreams. Give me the Chicago Cubs as road underdogs today in game three!