Reds vs. Cubs MLB Pick – August 15th

We got hosed again on Monday, as we backed the Astros with some nice value (+130) as road underdogs at Chase Field. There was understandable risk with Zack Greinke toeing the rubber, but it’s fair to say we didn’t expect a stacked Houston offense to score zero runs.

It’s onward and upward on Tuesday, as we get a very interesting slate stacked with fun bets. Kyle and Chris took a look at the Indians/Twins and Mets/Yankees games, which offer some safety or upside, depending on how you look at those contests. There is loads of upside on this slate, but one of my favorite bets resides in Wrigley Field, where we get a tantalizing NL Central clash between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds limp into this series with three straight losses (4-6 over their last 10 games) and they’re stuck at the bottom of the division, but they still boast plenty of power and will look to play spoiler here. Chicago has a tentative grasp on the division at 62-55, as they’ve been going through the motions lately (5-5 over their last 10 games), but could get a jolt at home, where they’ve been at their best (30-26) in 2017.

Do we back the favored Cubs at home, aim high with the Reds on the road or attack what seems to be an extremely playable Total? Let’s dig a little bit deeper to find out:

Cincinnati Reds (+160) @ Chicago Cubs (-185) Total: 8.5

Luis Castillo (2-5, 3.73 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.70 ERA)

The only real reason to get excited about the Reds is the value they offer in this spot. This +160 line is pretty fun for a team that has plenty of power and a talented young pitcher taking the mound. Of course, their offense sees a negative park shift, Castillo has quite the challenge in front of him and Cincy’s lineup also faces a fairly stable arm in Kyle Hendricks.

There isn’t a ton working in favor of the Reds, so numbers aside, we get why Vegas doesn’t like them here. Not surprisingly, we don’t love them in this spot, either.

The Cubs aren’t giving us any value, either. They represent safety at home against an inferior opponent, but this gives us no value or upside. You don’t need to be told to back the Cubs here, but even if we were rolling with them, we wouldn’t be too keen on the upside associated with it.

All roads lead to the Total, in my opinion. If you can paint a pretty argument for taking the Reds and you buy into it, that’s fine. I’m just not seeing it today. Instead, this 8.5 Total feels light and we actually get solid value with an EVEN line attached to it.

But is it really reliable? I think it is. Castillo is talented and can rack up strikeouts, but he’s had major issues with hard contact so far in his young career. The reality is the kid has 10 starts to his name and is going on the road to take on the Cubs for the first time. That can often mean bad things for the opposing offense, but Chicago thrives at home and overall this has been a tough offense to punch out lately.

The Cubs have just been a different team beyond the MLB All-Star break, too. Since then, Chicago ranks #1 in home runs and 5th in batting average.

Yeah, they’ve been pretty good. The Cubs also are known for their ability to mash the ball and while their best work is done against southpaws, they still rank 11th on the year in home runs against right-handed pitchers. A team that loves hard contact against a young pitcher that struggles with it? Yeah, that’s the recipe we’re looking for when we look at a low Total.

On the other side we get Kyle Hendricks, who has been admittedly stable, but he’s far from unbeatable. The Reds hang around with the Cubs (12th) in the home run department when facing righties, but they’ve been more reliable (12th in batting average) on the year.

Hendricks has the better matchup on paper. Facing a stable righty takes away half of the Reds in terms of power and overall effectiveness, but he still has to be concerned with Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez and Adam Duvall. All of these guys sport strong power against righties and also know how to get on base. The Reds are the lower hanging fruit in this matchup, but I think they can do enough to combine with the Cubs here to get the Over.

We’re not getting bloated value with an EVEN line, but we get what we put in and usually you can’t ask for much more than that. Given the power, beatable pitching and low Total, this looks like one of the best bets on the night.

Pick: Over 8.5 (EVEN)

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