Cubs vs Cardinals Pitcher Props | Bets for Marcus Stroman, Matthew Liberatore in London Series (Sunday, June 25)
Pictured: Marcus Stroman. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
The Cubs, behind an excellent start from Justin Steele, handled the Cardinals in the first game of the London Series. Chicago's offense jumped on Adam Wainwright early and cruised to an eventual 9-1 victory. The Cubs have the starting pitching advantage again Sunday as Marcus Stroman battles against Matthew Liberatore. Stroman is in the middle of a career season and leads MLB in quality starts, but this will be the toughest start he makes all year because of the positive hitting environment at London Stadium.
Even though 2019 featured an outburst of runs in the two London games between the Yankees and Red Sox, it's clear from Saturday that the different baseballs and new outfield dimensions have this park playing more similar to Coors Field or Great American Ball Park.
Here are my two favorite props for Sunday's Cubs vs. Cardinals London Series matchup:
Marcus Stroman Under 4.5 Strikeouts (+105 at DraftKings)
Stroman's strikeout rate has been consistent over his past four MLB seasons. He's sat between 20.5% and 21.7% in strikeout rate each year and thus this season's 21.4% is a solid number against an average lineup in an average park. However, this is neither an average lineup, nor an average park. If we use the Statcast park factor for Coors Field, Stroman's base projected strikeout rate drops all the way to 17.7%.
The Cardinals strike out at a below-average rate (23rd lowest strikeout rate) and don't have any massive lineup changes that would dramatically impact how their lineup will project Sunday. If we keep Stroman conservatively at a 17.7% strikeout rate, he'd need to face 26 hitters to be expected to go over 4.5 strikeouts.
I'd bet Stroman to go under 4.5 strikeouts at -115 or better. Additionally, both teams have rested bullpens and an off day Monday. As a result, each starter could be on a tighter leash than normal, which leads me to my next prop.
Matthew Liberatore Under 3.5 Strikeouts (-140 at DraftKings)
Liberatore gained velocity in the minors and that led to some optimism that he'd be a much improved pitcher once he returned to the majors. However, that hasn't been the case for the Cardinals lefty. He has a career 6.03 ERA and a 7.61 xERA this season. He's had issues getting righties out, as they're slashing .307/.398/.467 against him with 14 strikeouts and 11 walks. Liberatore has a 15.9% strikeout rate this season, which drops to just 13.1% when you apply the rough park factor.
Also, Liberatore could see an entire lineup of right-handed bats Sunday. Patrick Wisdom's injury and the potential of Cody Bellinger sitting against a lefty removes two major sources of strikeouts from Chicago's lineup.
Liberatore's fastball has consistently graded as below average and his curveball is really his only good pitch. If he loses some curveball movement because of the park, that'll be a major hit to his ability to generate whiffs. The Cubs are very patient and don't often chase.
The math says Liberatore needs to face 27 hitters to be projected over 3.5 strikeouts. I am highly skeptical of that happening.
I'd bet Liberatore under 3.5 strikeouts at -175 or better.