If the odds are any indication, we should have a lot of competitive games lined up on the betting board for Wednesday. That includes the game at Wrigley Field between the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs. The Reds defied a line move against them on Tuesday night to secure a 7-4 win and keep pace with the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central race.
The Cubs could have some trying days ahead. Friday’s Trade Deadline looms large and players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Wednesday’s starter, Zach Davies, could all be on the move. Davies is scheduled for today’s start against Tyler Mahle, but we could have a Tyler Anderson situation today, so stay up on the latest.
Sportsbooks have lined the game is lined with the Reds as a slight road favorite and a total of 9.5.
The Reds haven’t really been a buyer or a seller yet at the Trade Deadline. They don’t really have a lot to sell, but the idea of giving up assets to be a buyer while trailing the Brewers by seven games doesn’t seem to make much sense, even if there are clear needs in the bullpen.
The Reds would be a buyer for the future if they were interested in adding pieces. They’d be adding cost-controlled players that may or may not have a 2021 impact, but would have an impact from 2022 on. Offensively, the Reds don’t really need a ton of help. Their .326 wOBA ranks seventh, though they do have the lowest wRC+ of the teams in the top eight in wOBA.
A large part of that stems from the fact that the Reds have been great at home in a ballpark tailored for offense and have struggled on the road. Cincinnati is third in wOBA at home, but 18th in wOBA on the road. They’ll be on the road at Wrigley Field tonight with warm and humid conditions and a breeze blowing out to left. It could be a nice night for hitting.
While Tyler Mahle would enjoy the run support, he’d certainly like some more pitcher-friendly conditions. Mahle has a 3.92 ERA with a 4.03 FIP in his 105.2 innings of work. Mahle is one of the pitchers that has seen a huge drop in his spin rates since the foreign substance crackdown took hold in June. Over his last nine starts in that span, he has a 4.47 ERA with a 4.48 FIP and has allowed nine home runs with a 20.5% HR/FB%.
Mahle has competed well for the most part, as the home runs have been the biggest blemishes, but each and every starter for the Reds is tasked with doing more because the bullpen is downright awful. The Reds pen ranks 26th in fWAR and dead last in ERA at 5.36.
There are a lot of things up in the air for the Cubs today, tomorrow, and Friday. Chicago has already been a seller, trading Joc Pederson and Andrew Chafin, but more trades are undoubtedly coming. For those that are looking at the betting markets in the morning, it is in your best interest to consider each team’s situation. For example, if the Cubs were to trade Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, or even change starters for today, the line would likely go up.
Don’t bet on a clear seller like the Cubs early in the morning. Wait and see what happens throughout the day and then determine once the game rolls around what you want to do with that team. Any trade of a big-name player is going to alter the line for any team. That isn’t exclusive to the Cubs. It is simply another wrinkle of betting baseball around the Trade Deadline.
The Cubs are hard to bet anyway. They’re a well below average offense this season and the pitching staff has been going in the wrong direction, most notably in the bullpen. The Cubs are 18th in wOBA and have just a 92 wRC+ for the season. They have hit significantly better at home with a .330 wOBA and a 106 wRC+.
Zach Davies will have to put any trade speculation behind him as he makes this start. Davies probably isn’t a sought-after commodity with a 4.30 ERA and a 4.65 FIP, but pitchers are at a premium this season going from 60 games to 162, so somebody might bite. His 15.5% K% represents a huge decrease from last season, but is a lot closer to his previous seasons. The 11.9% BB% is the stat that stands out in a negative way.
That being said, outside of allowing eight runs to the Marlins on June 18, Davies has been pretty decent for the last little while. Dating back to the start of May, he has a 3.12 ERA with a 4.29 FIP. He just hasn’t given the Cubs a lot of length, which has put a bullpen going in the wrong direction into a lot of high-pressure spots in his starts.
Reds vs. Cubs Free Pick
As mentioned, you can’t take the Cubs today until you know how the offense is going to look. By default, that means taking a look at the Reds, but they look like the better bet here anyway. The Cubs have a lot of things going in behind the scenes and in the clubhouse. The Reds are just trying to win games. This is a pitching matchup that looks to favor them and the weather conditions also look favorable for their offense as well.
Pick: Cincinnati Reds