Updated Brewers vs. Cubs Odds, Picks, Betting Preview: Milwaukee, Corbin Burnes Should Dominate (Thursday, April 7)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Corbin Burnes
Updated Brewers vs. Cubs Odds
|Time||2:20 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
Corbin Burnes takes the mound for the 2022 season opener as the Milwaukee Brewers head to Chicago to take on Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs.
It looks to be a relatively wet and rainy day in the Windy City, so field conditions may not be promising. That said, Burnes is the reigning National League Cy Young winner, while Hendricks struggled mightily in 2021.
Neither of these teams hit right-handers particularly well in 2021, but with a new season and much roster turnover for both sides, it is hard to bank on that historical data.
Let’s take a look at where we can find a betting edge as the MLB season gets underway.
Burnes, Bullpen Elite for Brewers
Burnes is an elite pitcher and perhaps the best in the game at the moment. He throws his cutter around 53% of the time with his curve and slider around 27%.
The league only maintained a .153 xwOBA on these off-speed pitches last season, but it does not stop there. Opponents only held a .249 xwOBA against his fastballs (cutter, sinker, four-seamer) with an average exit velocity of 86.1 mph. His ability to avoid hard contact is superb.
After Burnes comes a duo of: Devin Williams and Josh Hader, who are phenomenal on the back-end for Milwaukee. However, with starters not stretched out given the shortened spring training following the lockout, bridging the gap from whenever Burnes leaves the game to those two will be key.
Aaron Ashby can handle those duties, if needed. In 20 innings last season, Ashby held opponents to nearly a 60% groundball rate, with a 2.76 xFIP. Since he has the possibility of being the long reliever option for manager Craig Counsell, he could be stretched out to potentially become a back-end pitcher.
Williams is an elite setup man and Hader is probably the best reliever in all of baseball. The lights will be out all game for the Cubs’ offense — even with the wind blowing out.
On the offensive side of things, Milwaukee bolstered their lineup with the additions of Hunter Renfroe and Andrew McCutchen. This will help in both the outfield and the newly added National League designated hitter position. Even if neither batted well against righties last year, this offense is stronger than it was last season.
Cubs Improved, But Still Flawed
The same can be said about the Cubs’ offense despite trading away their former World Series core last July.
Nick Madrigal can battle with the best of them at the top of the lineup, and while he is still developing, in his short career to date he still owns an above-average 106 wRC+ against righties.
Seiya Suzuki is another name to watch, as he crushed the ball while playing in Japan and could be a frontrunner for the National League Rookie of the Year award.
Last season, the Cubs only had one player with an xwOBA over .300 against curveballs and sliders. Frank Schwindel was that name and his was only at .307. If Burnes is able to mix in his usual off-speed stuff with dominating cutters, it is hard to envision a scenario where the Cubs can hit him.
Hendricks very well could keep the Cubs in the matchup, but he will need to log more innings than he would be used to this early in the year. His saving grace is he does not allow hard contact. He ranked in the 92nd percentile in average exit velocity last season and the 88th percentile in hard hit rate.
Lastly, the Cubs did not make any major improvements to their bullpen. Mychel Givens looks to be a decent acquisition, and David Robertson is there now, too. But if the Brewers get to Hendricks, it could be a long day for the Cubs’ relievers.
The wind is projected to blow out straight-away to center, and that’s led to a sky-high total of 10.5 set for this opener at Wrigley.
However, Burnes should dominate in this game. Even if he only goes five innings or so, Milwaukee has the backup in its bullpen. If the Brewers can hand the ball to Williams or Hader with a lead, they should lock it down.
Hendricks is solid for the Cubs, but he does not have much behind him in the Chicago bullpen and the Cubs have not improved enough where they can take down the reigning Cy Young winner. I would bet Milwaukee to -160.
Pick: Milwaukee Brewers ML (-160 or better).