Cubs vs. Cardinals Odds, Predictions, Preview: Bet Saturday’s First Inning Total
Ron Vesely/Getty Images. Pictured: Kwang Hyun Kim.
- The Cardinals and Cubs continue their three-game series at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.
- Kwang Hyun Kim is set to start opposite Zach Davies in a matchup of pitchers who have excelled early in starts.
- Michael Arinze breaks down where he sees value on an early total on Saturday night at Wrigley Field.
Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds
|Time||Saturday, 7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings|
The second game of the Cardinals-Cubs series could end up being a pitchers’ duel between Kwang Hyun Kim and Zach Davies.
Kim is coming off his best start this year after pitching seven scoreless innings against the National League West-leading Giants. He’s also allowed only one run in his last 12 innings.
As for Davies, he hasn’t always been at his best in 2021 — except when facing St. Louis. Davies has yet to allow a run across two starts in 11 2/3 innings against the Cardinals. After running the numbers, my model is right in line with the market price, so I don’t see much of an edge in taking either side.
However, after looking at the profile of both pitchers coming in, I’d expect them to have an advantage over the hitters, particularly in the early frames.
Kim Leads Cardinals’ Rotation
St. Louis hasn’t pitched particularly well as a group this season, and that’s one of the reasons why it finds itself two games under .500 at 43-45. It has a 4.32 team ERA, and its starters have a 4.25 ERA.
However, Kim has been one of the exceptions, as he sports a 3.39 ERA. It’s his second season in the majors since coming over from South Korea and in 22 appearances, he’s 6-5 with a 2.73 ERA.
Frankly, I think the league is still getting used to him, especially because he’s not your typical flame-throwing pitcher. Instead, Kim is much more of an artful pitcher than a thrower. And he’s still effective despite averaging around 89.2 mph on his fastball. Hopefully, you can see why this would frustrate hitters, as they generally use the pitcher’s velocity to create the necessary speed to drive a home run out of the park.
Baseball Savant provides a breakdown of his complete pitch arsenal: He throws a four-seamer (42.4%), slider (35.3%), curveball (11%) and changeup (10.3%).
If you look at his pitch usage, you can tell he has a simplified approach with his four-seamer and his slider as his dominant pitches. His slider (21%) and curveball (20.7%) are his best put-away pitches, with batters hitting no higher than .238 against either.
The strategy of throwing his two dominant pitches almost 78% of the time does bode well for him in the early innings. He’s generally going to have a good feel for those pitches, and you won’t have to worry about him overthinking and trying to throw pitches that aren’t necessarily his strongest.
This is often a problem for starters who throw too many pitches but with Kim, there’s no messing about. What you see is what you get, and that approach has worked pretty well thus far.
Davies Settling in After Horrid Start
Davies has done a tremendous job stymying the Cardinals this season.
At one point, his ERA was as high as 11.05 earlier this year, so the fact that it’s down to 4.28 is worthy of some praise.
Much like Kim, he’s been in decent form as he’s allowed just four runs in his last 15 innings of work. He also was part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers, holding them hitless for the first six innings.
I really like the similarities of both pitchers in this matchup because they’re almost going to lull the hitters to sleep. Davies tops out around 87.7 mph, and according to Baseball Savant, he predominantly uses a four-pitch mix like Kim. He throws a sinker (52.9%), changeup (32.8%), curveball (8.5%) and changeup (5.8%).
Another similarity between the two pitchers is that Davies throws his two dominant pitches over 76% of the time. If you’re going to go down with a pitcher, you want one who’s going to go down fighting with his best pitches and not spend his time tinkering with his third or fourth-best pitches. This is really key early in a game as pitchers try to get into a rhythm. Thus, throwing your best pitches early and often is a great way to settle in.
Lastly, opposing hitters have an average launch angle below 10 when facing both pitchers. That’s right where you want to have a chance at keeping hitters inside the park.
All of this can lead to success in the early frames, and that’s why I think both pitchers can put a zero on the board in the first inning.
Davies has not allowed a first-inning run in 14 of his 18 (78%) starts this year. In fact, he’s only allowed one run in the opening frame in 11 of his last 12 starts. That’s a good sign when you pair that with his mastery of the Cardinals this season, as they’ve yet to score a run off him.
And then there’s Kim, who hasn’t allowed a first-inning run since his first start of the season on April 17.
In addition, Our Action Network weather tracker shows close 13 mph wind gusts blowing in from right field. I don’t see these conditions being too optimal for hitters against two pitchers who come into this matchup in good form.
DraftKings has already posted the under in the first inning at -112 odds, so I’ll look to place my action there.
Pick: 1st Inning Under 0.5 (-112)