Cubs Are MLB Betting Favorites Against the Reds on Friday

Posted by Kenny Bell on Thursday,April 20, 2017 9:31, EDT in

The Chicago Cubs are learning that this whole defending World Series champion thing is a bit tough as the champs are hovering around .500 as they visit Cincinnati to start a three-game NL Central series on Friday. The Reds stunk the last two years and were supposed to again but have been huge surprises. They will still be MLB betting underdogs here.

Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds MLB Betting Prediction & Game Info

When: Friday, April 21, 7:10 PM ET
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Probable pitchers (away/home): Jon Lester/Tim Adleman
TV: MLB Network
Stream: MLB.tv
Radio: Chicago / Cincinnati
Opening MLB Lines: Cubs favored by TBA

Why Bet On Chicago?

The Cubs have to be happy with their trade for Wade Davis. He recorded his third save of the season with a perfect ninth inning on Tuesday against the Brewers. Davis protected a two-run lead without a sweat, getting a flyout, groundout and foul out to retire the side on just nine pitches. The closer has been dominant for the Cubbies in the early going with 7 1/3 scoreless frames and a 7/1 K/BB ratio while converting all three save opportunities. Davis has not allowed a home run in his last 54.1 innings since September 24, 2015 … that’s the second-longest active streak in the majors, trailing only Baltimore’s Zach Britton (70.0 IP)

However, of early concern is starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks walked four Brewers on Wednesday including the opposing pitcher for the first time in his career. The four walks tie his career high. He also gave up two home runs giving him four allowed for the season. He didn’t allow his fourth home run last year until June 7. The 2016 MLB era leader has 6.19 mark after 3 starts this year.

In Chicago’s victories, the team is hitting .271 (57-for- 210) with a .777 OPS while averaging 5.5 runs per game (33 runs total). The pitchers have posted a 2.33 ERA (14 ER/54.0 IP) in the team’s wins. Chicago has hit .215 (51-for- 237) with a .612 OPS in the team’s losses, averaging 2.4 runs per game and the pitchers have a 4.08 ERA (29 ER/64.0 IP).

The Cubs are taking advantage of Thursday’s off-day and flip flopping Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in the rotation. Lester (0-0, 1.00) goes here. The veteran southpaw dominated Pittsburgh in his last appearance, throwing seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits. The Pirates rallied to win. Lester has 23 starts of at least 5.0 innings and one or fewer runs allowed since the start of 2016. No one else has more than 16 such starts in that span.

Why Bet On Cincinnati?

The Reds could welcome back former All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco for this series. He’s in Double-A currently on a rehab assignment, there to show a team that invested $28 million in his long-term that he’s healthy enough to be a big league catcher again. When he’s activated, the Reds can’t carry three catchers so someone has to go because none of Mesoraco, Tucker Barnhart, or Stuart Turner plays any other position means. It’s not going to be Barnhart who gets booted from the roster, leaving Turner as the obvious odd man out, although the Reds could then lose him to another team.

One of the hottest Reds has been Eugenio Suarez. Entering Wednesday, he had compiled a .364/.440/.705 line in 50 plate appearances. He’s recorded at least one hit in nine of his 12 starts, and his line is even more impressive when accounting for the fact that he began the season 0-for- 7 with a hit by pitch in his first two games. His 1.304 OPS since April 6th is fifth-best in the majors. Suarez has a 27.8% fly ball rate – down significantly from his 38.6% career rate and his 37.9% rate in 2016 – and a 33.3% line drive rate, a giant bump from his career rate of 21.8% and his 2016 rate of 21.6%.

Last year, Suarez became only the 10th third baseman in franchise history to produce at least 20 home runs in a season, joining Gene Freese (1961), Deron Johnson (1965), Tony Perez (1967, 1969-1971), Buddy Bell (1986), Chris Sabo (1990-1991, 1993), Aaron Boone (2002), Edwin Encarnacion (2008), Scott Rolen (2010) and Todd Frazier (2014-2015).

Reds relievers rank second in the National League in ERA (2.48) and first in innings pitched (61.2). They have stranded 13 of 14 inherited baserunners, the best percentage in the Major Leagues (93%), and retired the first batter 36-47 times (.077).

It’s Tim Adelman (0-0 2.25) on the mound here. With the bullpen being used heavily, Adleman was chosen to start because the club believed he can throw strikes and provide a deeper outing. The Reds are missing four injured starting pitchers. Adleman threw four decent innings of one-run ball in long relief on Sunday vs. the Brewers.

Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds MLB Betting Pick: Chicago Cubs

Lester was 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA last year in five starts vs. the Reds.