MLB Live Odds and Pick for June 28: Cubs at Reds
It’s safe to say that the National League Central is the most competitive division in the Majors this season. All five teams have realistic playoff aspirations nearing the halfway point of the season, which certainly can’t be said about every division. The Chicago Cubs are currently atop the division with a 44-37 record, though they’re just 6 ½ games ahead of the last-place Cincinnati Reds. The Reds, who have the best winning percentage of any fifth-place team in the majors, will have the chance to close the gap this weekend with Chicago in town.
Sonny Gray, who has been much improved so far this season, will take the ball for the Reds on Friday night opposite Chicago left-hander Cole Hamels.
The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:
|2019 ATR Home||26-19||15-19|
|2019 ATR Away||17-19||26-18|
|2019 O/U Home||20-23-2||12-21-1|
|2019 O/U Away||21-15-0||15-18-1|
Sonny Gray was essentially persona non grata last season for the Yankees. The right-hander had high expectations in the Bronx after coming over in a trade from the Oakland A’s, but a combination of bad luck and impatience on the Yankees’ part led to a tumultuous tenure for Gray in pinstripes.
Gray had a passable 4.10 xFIP last season for the Yankees, but his 4.90 ERA was a lot less friendly. His strikeout rate dipped slightly to 21.1%, while his 9.8% walk rate was problematic. Gray’s underlying numbers weren’t bad, but he quickly grew unpopular with the rabid New York fanbase. That caused the Yankees to ship him to Cincinnati over the winter.
So far this season, Gray has looked like an All-Star. The veteran has upped his K-rate to 26.7%, while his 3.62 xFIP is downright good. He has continued to induce ground balls at an elite rate (55.3%) while allowing just eight homers through his first 15 starts.
Great American Ballpark is a tough place to pitch considering how many home runs are hit here, and a matchup with a powerful Chicago lineup isn’t all that favorable. One thing that should benefit Gray is that some of the Cubs’ better hitters swing the bat from the left side. Gray has limited lefties to a .246 wOBA with a strikeout rate over 31 percent on the year.
Hamels’ Continued Excellence
Not to be outdone, Cole Hamels has also been quite strong this season after struggling at times in recent years. The veteran southpaw owns a solid 2.92 ERA on the year, though his 3.55 xFIP shows that the ERA should regress a bit moving forward. Regardless, a 3.55 xFIP is impressive in its own right.
Hamels has struck out opposing hitters at a 23.7% clip while keeping the ball on the ground at a rate north of 51%. The fact that he has only allowed nine homers this year after being tagged for 29 a season ago is also a marked improvement.
Hamels still has a wide platoon split, though he has still fared well against hitters of either handedness. Righties have a low .293 wOBA against him, but they have accounted for eight of the nine homers he’s served up. Those splits should help him against the likes of Jesse Winker and Joey Votto, but talented right-handed hitters like Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel could prove problematic.
This is shaping up to be a fun weekend series between a couple of playoff hopefuls in the National League. The Cubs are getting love from oddsmakers with Hamels on the mound, but I like the value you can get betting on the Reds on their home field.
I think Gray is probably the most underrated starting pitcher in baseball, which is a major reason for Cincinnati being an underdog in this spot. I’d take the value that comes with betting on the Reds to win the game outright on the moneyline. +110 looks like a nice price here.
$100 stake could win...