As a general rule, I love to position myself on the other side of the betting public. The public has this innate ability to seemingly always get it wrong, and when everybody is on one side, I like to be on the other. But last night, despite the fact that sharps and squares alike were all backing the Arizona Diamondbacks, I felt that they might actually be on to something and decided to be a sheep and follow the pack and backed the DBacks.
And for once, the public got one right! It did take a bottom of the ninth inning walk-off rally to pick up the win, but at the end of the day, a win is a win, and we cashed our ticket. I liked Arizona as I felt that starting pitcher Zach Gallen, is criminally underrated at this point in his career, and that being able to back him at home, at even money, felt like absurd value.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 7, 2020
Gallen wasn’t as sharp as he has been so far in 2020, but he did have a nice night, working six innings and allowing just two runs. He left the game with the lead and had the bullpen now blown it for him, was in line for the win.
Arizona hit the bottom of the ninth down a run, but quickly loaded the bases with no outs, and Kole Calhoun walked it off on a two-RBI double to end the game. For today’s daily betting pick, we will take a look at another game where everyone seems to be in agreement, when the Chicago Cubs head to St. Louis, to play the Cardinals.
Chicago Cubs (10-3) at St. Louis Cardinals (2-3)
The St. Louis Cardinals return to action tonight after missing over a full week’s worth of action to a Corona Virus outbreak and hope to get back into the chase for the National League Central Division title, as they host their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals haven’t played a game since July 29th, and no team has played fewer than the five games St. Louis has played so far in 2020.
For Chicago, the Cubs lead the National League in wins with ten and are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the best record in all of baseball. The Cubs got blown out yesterday in the series finale with the Kansas City Royals, a loss that snapped a six-game winning streak for Chicago. Chicago has taken advantage of a slow start by the rest of the NL Central, and their three and a half-game lead in the division is the largest in the National League.
Starting tonight for the Cardinals is Daniel Ponce De Leon (0-1 6.75 ERA), and for the Cubs, it is Jon Lester (1-0 0.82 ERA). The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. The Cubs are -125 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 PM PST from Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The Chicago Cubs have taken advantage of a soft schedule to run up the best record in the National League at 10-3. You can only beat the teams that you play, but it has been an easy start to the year for the Cubbies, as the teams that they have played have a combined record of just 17-28. Wins are wins in MLB, and they all count the same at the end of the year, and really the only reason I mention the soft schedule, is to try and make sure that this hot start for Chicago can be trusted.
The Cubs have used solid pitching and timely hitting to find a way to win some close games. Their +8 run differential pales in comparison to several teams that have worse records than they do, like the Dodgers (+33), Rockies (+26), and Braves (+23). If you break down the data on Chicago, it might lead you to believe that their record is inflated, as they are winning close games against bad teams, but the eye test tells us that this team is the real deal and is a threat to take home the NL pennant.
Jon Lester (1-0 0.82 ERA)
One guy that passes the eye test and has the numbers to back them up, is Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. Lester tossed a five-inning no-hitter in his first start of the year, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds. Lester threw just 76 pitches in that game, but the Cubs made the decision to keep him on his pre-established pitch count and didn’t want to overwork him, so he didn’t get a chance to chase history with the no-no.
He followed up that performance by throwing six innings of stellar work against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just one run on four hits. Chicago has won both starts by Lester so far in 2020, which has always been the case for the veteran lefty, as his career record in his six-year stint with the Cubs is sizzling 75-41, good for a winning percentage of .647.
St. Louis Cardinals
One good thing about baseball, is that it hasn’t changed all that much in the last hundred or so years. Yeah, the strategy changes from time to time, and the stats we follow are always evolving, but for the most part, baseball is very much the same game today, that it was when guys like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig played it, nearly a hundred years ago.
That gives us a wealth of history and data to evaluate when making our bets. One thing that we have never seen before 2020, though, is when a team is forced to stop play in the middle of a season for a viral outbreak.
We have a total of one case to rely upon when looking at the situation that the Cardinals are in right now, and that is the Miami Marlins, a team that also missed a bunch of games and resumed play earlier this week. The Marlins, despite being a team that was expected to finish in last place this year, have won all three of their games since hitting the pause button mid-year. Is that a typical result? Or just a fluke?
Daniel Ponce De Leon (0-1 6.75 ERA)
Daniel Ponce De Leon has been a guy that St. Louis has been able to lean on to do whatever it is the team needs since joining the squad in 2018. He starts games, he works out of the bullpen, and no matter what he is asked to do, he has done a more than respectable job. His career stat line coming into 2020 was an ERA of just above three runs and a K/9 ratio approaching double-digits.
Ponce De Leon came in and got one out in relief against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his first appearance this season, and then made a start against the Minnesota Twins in his next appearance. The Twins roughed him up a bit as he gave up three earned runs in only 3.2 innings worked. He did manage to strike out eight guys in that game, but he also walked three, as even he didn’t know where the pitches were going to end up.
Who Do I Like?
The Cardinals opened as -125 betting favorites in this game. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has jumped on the other side, and this line has flip-flopped to where it stands now, at Chicago -125. And I can certainly see why. The Cardinals weren’t playing good baseball to start out 2020, and after this long break, I expect them to come out flat tonight.
Even if they hadn’t sat on ice for over a week, and even if they didn’t lose several of their best players to Corona Virus, I would still like Chicago, as Jon Lester has been absolutely filthy in 2020, and I getting him as a dog, or now as a small favorite, was always going to be a good spot.
I hate to do it two days in a row, but I think the public got this one right. I was one of those early betting sharps that snagged the Cubs last night as road underdogs, but I still see plenty of value in taking them where the line stands now, as small favorites. Expect Chicago to take the pitch count off of Lester, and I see him getting deep into this game and having a lot of success. Give me the Chicago Cubs as road favorites tonight from St. Louis, laying -125!