Sunday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Giants: Can San Francisco Finish Off Sweep? (June 6)
Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Cueto.
- Chicago and San Francisco meet on more time Sunday afternoon with the Giants looking for the rare four-game sweep.
- Despite playing at home, starting a better pitcher and the previous three wins, San Francisco is a slight underdog.
- Michael Arinze breaks down whether or not this should be the case.
Cubs vs. Giants Odds
|Time||Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings|
The San Francisco Giants continued their impressive run this season with a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. The victory extended the Giants’ winning streak to three games, and it was also the third straight loss for Chicago in the four-game series.
The Cubs will send Kyle Hendricks to the mound on Sunday as they hope to avoid the rare four-game sweep while San Francisco will counter with Johnny Cueto. Cueto is off to a fine start considering he’s 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA.
This should be an interesting game because there are many ways to approach this matchup from a situational handicap.
But before diving into some applicable trends, let’s look to see what clues, if any, we can glean from the season-long performance of both teams.
Hendricks Has A Home Run Issue
Kyle Hendricks has won his last four starts to improve to 6-4 on the year with a 4.62 ERA. However, his 5.51 FIP is almost a full run higher, making him a possible candidate for regression. When you look at his numbers this season compared to previous years, the first thing that jumps out is his 2.31 HR/9 ratio. In 2020, his 1.11 HR/9 ratio was actually the highest of his career. But this year, hitters are barreling him up at an alarming rate.
In 2018, hitters had a barrel rate of 5.2%, which was a previous high before this season. However, that number has now spiked to 10.5% in 2021.
It looked like Hendricks resolved his home run issues in May as he allowed only one home run through his first four games. Then in his final May start, he allowed three home runs and two more in his first outing in June.
And it’s not like the home runs he’s given up can be pinned down to one particular pitch in his arsenal. Instead, the home runs he’s allowed have been fairly distributed among the four different pitches that he throws. He’s given up two home runs with his sinker, five each with his changeup and four-seamer, and four with his curveball,
He’ll need to be particularly mindful on Sunday when he pitches against a Giants team that’s tied for second with 84 home runs on the year. There will also be 13 mph wind gusts out to centerfield, which could also be problematic for Hendricks given his propensity to give up fly balls.
Cueto’s Velocity Is Up For Giants
Cueto seems almost like the antithesis of Hendricks. His 3.45 ERA looks even better when you consider his 2.64 FIP. That suggests Cueto could experience some positive regression. Perhaps it’s even easier to understand why after looking at his advanced numbers.
Cueto has a 0.41 HR/9 ratio which would be the lowest in his career. His 1.22 BB/9 ratio is also a career-low. And now, after 13 seasons in the big leagues, he can still baffle hitters, as evidenced by his career-high infield flyball rate of 18.6%. While baseball statisticians often talk about pitchers’ GB/FB ratio, Cueto seems to be doing things his own way.
One thing that’s clearly been a revelation for Cueto is an improved velocity. He’s gone from averaging 91.4 mph on his fastball last year to 92.4 mph this season. That’s actually the hardest that he’s thrown since the 2016 season.
It’s not often you see a 35-year old pitcher increase their velocity after four seasons. Furthermore, that improved velocity has also trickled down into his other pitches: His sinker has gone from 90.7 mph last season to 91.9 this year, while the speed on his slider also increased from 83.5 mph to 84.6 mph.
Those subtle changes have been enough to transform Cueto into an almost entirely different pitcher, and that’s why he’s been able to have such early success this season.
Part of me wonders if the sportsbooks still view Cueto as the pitcher a few seasons ago and not who he’s been this season. Why else would the visiting Cubs be a slight favorite in this matchup? After searching for any situational trends for this matchup, here’s what I found:
- The Cubs have never defeated the Giants on the road with Hendricks as a starter (0-4, -4.05 units).
- Hendricks is not exactly a streak stopper as the Cubs are just 4-4 when he starts, and they’re on a three-game losing streak.
- The Cubs have alternated wins and losses in all eight of Hendricks’ starts when they’re on a three-game losing streak, and they won their last game in this situational spot.
- Cueto’s teams are 3-1 against the Cubs during a day game.
Lastly, Cueto is 71-44 for 15.4 units during day games.
To sum things up, I think the Giants are undervalued in this spot and certainly worth a look at -104 over at FanDuel.
Pick: Giants ML (-104)