Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs MLB Opening Day Odds and Pick

Baseball is officially back. MLB’s Opening Day is slated for Thursday. There were nine originally scheduled games on April 7th, but two have already been postponed to Friday because of inclement weather. So, the 2022 season will officially get underway when the Chicago Cubs play host to the Milwaukee Brewers at 2:20 ET.

These two division rivals have seen plenty of each other over the years. Chicago won it all and ruled the NL Central in the middle part of the last decade, but the Brewers have since taken over as the cream of the crop in the division. Milwaukee has won two of the last four NL Central titles, with four consecutive playoff appearances entering the new season.
MLB betting sites like Milwaukee to make it three division titles in five years this season, as well. Pitching is a major reason why. We’ll get a glimpse of the Brewers’ high-end arms on Thursday when reigning National League Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes takes the mound.

Chicago, which is now in the midst of a rebuilding process after losing Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez last season, will start veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks on Opening Day.

BetOnline says the Brewers are massive favorites in this one, and with good reason. Milwaukee checks in as -171 moneyline favorites in a game with an over/under of 10.5 runs.

Milwaukee Brewers

As mentioned, the Brewers are built on stellar pitching. Burnes should be a perennial NL Cy Young contender after winning it for the first time last year. You can lump Brandon Woodruff into that same conversation, while Freddy Peralta made tremendous strides in 2021, as well.

Until further notice, however, Burns is the headliner. The 27-year-old went 11-5 in 28 starts a season ago with a 2.43 ERA. Jacob deGrom may have breezed to the award if he stayed healthy, but he didn’t. With deGrom sidelined again by another injury, Burnes is once again the betting favorite to win the award for the second straight year.

Strikeouts are the name of the game with Burnes. His 35.6 percent strikeout rate a season ago ranked first in all of baseball by a pretty sizable margin. Unlike some other pitchers, Burnes also looked no worse for the wear after MLB began to crack down on pitchers using “sticky stuff” to gain an advantage.

The Cubs were not a particularly daunting offense last season, even before offloading Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez prior to the trade deadline.
So, it comes as little surprise to see that Burnes absolutely dominated them across three head-to-head meetings. Burnes went 2-0 with a tidy 1.35 ERA in those three meetings against the Cubs, surrendering just three runs in 20 innings of work along the way.

Burnes’ presence alone is enough to make the Brewers’ moneyline odds look a little undervalued at the current -171 number.

Chicago Cubs

There’s no telling what the Cubs will look like this season. Chicago declined to sign their 2016 championship core to long-term deals, which is why most of them were traded last summer. Now, the only holdovers from that World Series squad are Hendricks, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, and Ian Happ.

The Cubs have quite a few new faces in the fold this year. Marcus Stroman was signed to a lucrative offseason deal to add depth to the rotation, along with Wade Miley and Drew Smyly. For a rebuilding team, the Cubs do have quite a few experienced arms populating the starting rotation. A couple of more new veterans, David Robertson and Jesse Chavez, will play important bullpen roles, too.

Hendricks struggled mightily early on a season ago before bouncing back in the second half. He still finished 14-7 across 32 starts, but his 4.77 ERA was the worst mark of his big league career.

Rather than racking up strikeouts the way Burnes does, Hendricks has always relied on generating soft contact and ground balls. Last year, however, his ground ball rate plunged to about 43 percent, which is a notable dip from his career rate of 46.8 percent.

Hendricks was also barreled up by opposing hitters 8.4 percent of the time, which was nearly double the number of barrels he yielded back in 2020.

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs MLB Game Pick

It doesn’t take a hardcore stats nerd to see why the Brewers are so heavily favored in this game. Hendricks may be the best pitcher the Cubs can throw out there these days, but he likely wouldn’t be better than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in most rotations at this stage of his career. Frankly, Hendricks getting the Opening Day nod is more sentimental than anything else.

Please Note:
The Brewers don’t have the best offense, but they’re hoping to improve in that regard. Christian Yelich is looking to bounce back from a couple of injury-riddled seasons. Keston Hiura has reportedly revamped his swing. The Brewers also made a big defense-for-offense trade by swapping the speedy Jackie Bradley Jr. with the slugging Hunter Renfroe via trade.

Given the state of the Cubs’ offense, it’s hard to imagine Burnes not breezing through this lineup on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley. Anything can happen in one baseball game, but I like the value on Milwaukee to cover the runline in this one at -115 odds.

Milwaukee Brewers (-1.5)

Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs Betting Recap

  • Moneyline: Brewers -171, Cubs +151
  • Runline: Brewers -1.5 (-115), Cubs +1.5 (-105)
  • Over/Under: Over 10.5 runs (-110), Under 10.5 runs (-110)
  • Pick: Milwaukee Brewers -1.5 (-115)


Taylor Smith / Author

Taylor is a sports writer based in Southern California. While he primarily specializes in basketball, baseball and football, he will also dabble in things like soccer and politics from time to time. He has lived in just about every corner of the United States at one point or another, and he has been covering sports and sports betting for the better part of a decade. Taylor currently lives in Long Beach with his fiancé and their two cats.

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