Cubs vs Astros Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Tuesday, May 16
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Cristian Javier
Cubs vs. Astros Odds
-115 / -105
-115 / -105
After a thriller in Houston to open up this three-game set on Monday night, the Cubs will send their best starter to the hill to try and level the score. With a pre-season Cy Young candidate standing opposite him, what can we expect?
Let’s break it all down in our Cubs vs. Astros preview and prediction.
Justin Steele will be the man to take the ball on Tuesday and become the stopper for a Cubs team which now finds itself in the midst of a three-game losing streak and a stretch which has seen them lose six times in eight games. The good news is that the lefty is 6-0 in eight starts with a 1.82 ERA, but the bad news is that he’s due to come back down to Earth at some point.
It’s not as if a 3.23 xERA is bad at all, but we can realistically expect more outings like the last one Steele had, which saw him allow three earned runs on seven hits and three walks over six frames. He’s plenty capable of producing a Quality Start nearly every time out with a low 23.4% hard-hit rate and a ground ball rate up over 50%, but without a high strikeout output his ceiling is likely a bit capped.
The Cubs are still sporting a 122 wRC+ over the last week, which puts them in the top five of the league, but some of their hot starters have begun to slow down a bit. Dansby Swanson and Cody Bellinger have cooled and the latter may not even play here for Chicago due to a sore knee suffered on Monday night.
With Nico Hoerner already out, this offense could be in a bit of trouble.
Speaking of trouble, Cristian Javier has seemed to slip a bit after an absolutely sensational 2022 season. His ERA sits at a reasonable 3.47, but his strikeout rate has dipped 4.2 points and his expected batting average is up from .168 a season ago to .238 this year. I was very deliberate to call him a pre-season Cy Young Award candidate, because at the moment he doesn’t seem to fall into that category.
The sample is still small with Javier, who’s began to look a bit better in recent starts. He’s now struck out 35 batters in his last four outings, spanning 24 2/3 innings. He’s also given up just six hits in his last two and already had an above-average xBA.
The big thing here is Javier’s elevated barrel rate, which in turn has come along with a very surprising .429 xwOBA on contact. Javier has always been a fly ball pitcher, but he’s been able to induce weak contact at an incredible rate, thus limiting the gopher balls. He was also striking out more guys last year, but it’s hard to really shake a fist at a 29% strikeout rate.
Simply put, Javier profiles roughly the same as he has in years past, he just needs to figure out how to return his four-seam fastball to its 2022 levels. It’s down a full mph which certainly could have something to do with it, along with a depleted spin rate.
Cubs vs. Astros Betting Pick
I’m still not really a big fan of this Astros offense, which has mustered up just a 93 wRC+ in the last week. I realize this team won the World Series a year ago, but it’s failed to pack the same punch. Alex Bregman did homer the other night but is hitting just .212 on the year, and Jose Abreu is still searching for his first round-tripper of the season. Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley remain out with injuries, and the bottom of the lineup has given them very little.
So, I think Steele can have some success against a slumping offense which ranks 18th in wRC+ to lefties. On the other side of the coin, while Javier has had his issues, I’m not completely confident in this Cubs team when you consider Bellinger may now miss this one. This is a team which relies on home runs and walks, so missing his bat will be massive.
I’m going to back both pitchers here and grab the Under in the first five. I’d recommend staying away from the full-game under; the Cubs are now down another reliever with Brad Boxberger heading to the IL and are already working with a taxed bullpen.
Pick: First 5 Innings Under 4
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