The Cubs and Reds did not produce runs at the rate we thought they would last night, which handed us another loss. I’m going right back to the well here, as the Reds are big underdogs as they go for win number two in this series at Wrigley Field.
It’d be really easy to take the free money with the Cubs at -205, but we’ll seek a little more value than that via Chicago’s -1.5 Run Line (EVEN). We get back what we put in with this matchup and this feels like one of the best bets on the board. True, we’re not aiming high with insane upside here, but the Cubs are unlikely to drop a second straight home game against the worst team in their division.
Probably, right? The pitching matchup favors Chicago greatly on paper and I doubt their offense will be that dormant for the second night in a row. You may need a little more evidence than that, though, so let’s dive deeper into this showdown to see why we should bet on the Cubs to win by two runs tonight:
Cincinnati Reds (+175) @ Chicago Cubs (-205) Total: 9.5
Homer Bailey (4-6, 8.31 ERA) vs. John Lackey (10-9, 4.82 ERA)
The Reds offer even more upside than they did last night and they face the volatile John Lackey. If you’re confident they can shell him and Homer Bailey will contain Chicago’s lively offense, then this is the bet for you.
That isn’t the route we’ll be taking, of course. For starters, the Reds are not a reliable team on the road. We can see that right away based on a poor 21-39 road record, while they tend to be sporadic by nature. They do present a problem in terms of power every single time they hit the diamond and considering Lackey had given up 29 dongs in 2017, we should note that and keep an eye on the Over.
This isn’t just about the Reds and Lackey. The Reds have wrecked him this year (6.35 ERA) but the 38-year old has proven to be quite serviceable lately. Always a risk for a implosion, Lackey has actually held it together for some time now, giving up 3 or fewer runs in six straight contests.
We’re not going to confuse Lackey with an elite arm, but he’s in the comfort of his home park and should benefit greatly from being the best arm on the mound in this one.
That brings us to Bailey, who was once a solid pitcher but has turned to mush in return from injury. The 31-year old righty has freely given up loads of contact this year and it’s led to several blow-up outings. We saw how that can go just two starts ago, when the Twins turned 10 hits into 10 runs in just three innings.
Bailey pops up with random inning-eating grind-it-out baseball, but he’s never to be trusted. Even when he does contain offenses he’s usually getting lucky, as he doesn’t sport a high K rate and tends to get away with contact and shaky command. That’s problematic anytime you’re on the road against a talented Cubs team that is fighting to maintain their hold atop the NL Central.
The matchup itself is to die for if you’re the Cubs. Bailey serves up loads of contact and while he’s better on the road than at home, he still sports an unsightly 5.17 road ERA and gets crushed from either side of the plate (giving up .383+ OBP no matter which side of the plate he’s attacking).
The Cubs destroy lefties, but they don’t have too tough of a time against righties, either. On the year Chicago’s numbers are modest (11th in HR), but since the All-Star break they’ve been a completely different team (2nd in HR, 5th in batting average). Chicago also has some nasty lefties Bailey will have to deal with. Anthony Rizzo understandably leads the way, while Alex Avila, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ (switch) and Ben Zobrist (switch) all could give Homer serious problems. An absurd .484 OBP allowed to lefties at least suggests it.
Ultimately, it’s the Reds on the road and Homer Bailey is pitching. The Over is in play and the straight up bet doesn’t get us enough value. Let’s aim a little higher and attack Chicago’s -1.5 Run Line.