There’s a 12-game MLB schedule on this Wednesday, but also and 11-game evening schedule with plenty of betting options to go around.
For his pick, however, let’s dive into a pivotal NL Central matchup featuring the Reds vs. Cubs from Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Season Record: 16-9
Reds vs. Cubs Betting Odds
- Reds (+139)
- Cubs (-151)
- Reds +1.5 (-165)
- Cubs -1.5 (+145)
- Over 6.5 (-107)
- Under 6.5 (-113)
Reds vs. Cubs MLB Pick Breakdown
One of the top pitching matchups baseball has seen this season goes down tonight at Wrigley as the Reds send right-hander Trevor Bauer to the bump for this one tonight.
Bauer struggled after a trade deadline deal to the Reds last season, but has returned as one of baseball’s best pitchers again here in 2020.
Entering this one, Bauer sports a 2.05 ERA/3.18 FIP to go along with an enormous 12.48 K/9 while keeping his command in the form of a 2.66 BB/9 on the season.
Bauer’s 3.08 SIERA is a little more than a run above his 2.05 ERA and he’s dealt with some minor home run issues in the form of a 1.23 HR/9 on the season, but he’s also allowed just 30.9% hard contact on the season and 20.2% soft contact, both of which are superior to his career norms.
The other half of this elite pitching duel is perhaps the leader in the NL Cy Young race at the moment in the form of Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish.
Darvish struggled in the season’s first half in 2019, but boy has he turned it on since. After posting a 0.77 ERA in the second half last season, Darvish enters this one sporting a sparkling 1.44 ERA this season to go along with a 2.02 FIP, 2.61 xFIP and an 11.34 K/9.
Perhaps best of all for Darvish is the control he’s regained. After posting a 4.72 BB/9 in his first season with the Cubs in 2018 and struggling with command in the first half of 2019, Darvish owns a tiny 1.44 BB/9 on the season. His 7.88 K/BB on the season ranks second in all of baseball, better than the likes of Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole.
For you trivia buffs: the leader is the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales, not because of his 8.17 K/9 but because his eye-popping walk rate of just 0.71 BB/9.
In a general sense, both Bauer and Darvish should benefit from the weather at Wrigley today which features a strong wind blow in from center field and some chilly, damp conditions as well.
The Reds have received some quality pitching over the last season and change, but the offense has continually failed to keep up.
The Reds rank 20th with a .314 wOBA on the season versus righties, but that number has seen a boost thanks to their power. The Reds sport a .192 ISO on the season against a righties – a number tied for seventh with the Angels – but the team has struggled in other areas.
Their .316 OBP against righties ranks 23rd despite a walk rate that ranks first at 12%.
So, why the low OBP? Look no further than a .241 BABIP versus righties that is historically low. This comes despite the team sitting 12th with a 39.1% hard-hit rate against right-handed pitching.
It’s also worth noting that the Reds have struggled outside of the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, posting a 26th-ranked .290 wOBA on the road this season.
So, it would appear the Reds have suffered from some brutal batted-ball fortune to this point, but Darvish and the pitcher-friendly confines of Wrigley Field tonight are not the ideal combination to see that luck turn around.
The Cubs have been a little Jekyll and Hyde on the offensive front this season.
Stars such as Kris Bryant and Javier Baez have struggled mightily this season, but yet the Cubs are tied for seventh with a .332 wOBA on the season against right-handed pitching this season.
That said, they also rank 22nd with a .309 wOBA on the season at home where they have struck out 26.1% of the time, good for the third-highest mark in baseball. Strikeouts are also an issue against right-handed pitching in general as the Cubs also sport the league’s third-highest K-rate versus righties with a nearly-identical 26.2% mark.
While they’ve been able to score some runs against righties, a matchup with the right-hander Bauer at home in these weather conditions does not bode well for a ton of offense in this one.
The Reds have suffered from poor luck in the batted-ball department on offense, but they also haven’t had much fortune in the bullpen, either. That is, until lately.
For the season, the Reds rank 25th with a 5.04 bullpen ERA on the season, but the peripherals suggest some improved results moving forward. They also own an 11th-ranked 4.40 xFIP, 18th-ranked 0.7 fWAR and a second-ranked 11.28 K/9 on the season.
Over the last week however, the results have been outstanding.
Over the last seven days, the Reds’ bullpen has been by far the best in baseball with a 0.66 ERA to go along with a 2.28 FIP during that time.
Many figured the likes of Raisel Iglesias, Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen would get it figured out while the team also grabbed bullpen help at the deadline the form of former D-backs closer Archie Bradley.
Like the Reds, the Cubs haven’t gotten much from their bullpen on the whole this season.
The Cubs enter this one ranked 20th with a 4.66 ERA on the season, but similar to the Reds, better times should be ahead and they have been of late.
Their xFIP of 4.25 ranks sixth and their 10.45 K/9 sits fourth. Over the last two weeks, the Cubs rank eighth with a 3.19 ERA, but also fourth with a 3.29 FIP and third with a 3.75 xFIP.
Closer Craig Kimbrel is still working out the kinks as he still owns a 4.91 ERA in the last two weeks, but also a 19.64 K/9 and 2.07 FIP, so things have been getting turned around in some ways for the future Hall of Famer.
The bottom line is the Cubs needed their bullpen to be better moving forward and it has been of late.
Reds vs. Cubs MLB Picks
Noticed how I’m using a plural here?
Well, it’s rare that I dish out two picks in the same game. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done it here at The SportsGeek as I like to keep it simple and choose one selection I have the most confidence in.
I began this pick by looking at the total and despite the low 6.5-run total, I liked the under.
Both starters are in the Cy Young conversation, both allow very few base runners thanks to a high strikeout rates and low walk rates. Both bullpens have been very good of late and the conditions at Wrigley tonight are very pitcher-friendly.
So, I’m locking in the under 6.5 in this one.
That said, I’m also seeing some value here in the road side.
The Reds have suffered brutal batted-ball luck overall and on the road, but that’s going to get turned around, albeit we’re running out of time. Still, the Cubs have struggled to score at home and could struggle mightily in the strikeout department in this one given their high K-rates against righties and at home.
Against Bauer, current Cubs hitters have combined to hit .206 with a brutal .082 ISO and .576 OPS. Contrarily, current Reds batters have hit .241 but with a strong .198 ISO and far superior .736 OPS in their careers against Darvish.
I don’t expect much from either offense in this one, but I do think there’s some value here in the Reds with some improved offense fortune on the horizon and one of the game’s best pitchers on the mound
Sign me up not only for the under, but also the road dogs in this one tonight.