Cubs vs Cardinals Pitcher Props | Picks for Adam Wainwright, Justin Steele in London Series (Saturday, June 24)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Wainwright
The London Series is here, which is always refreshing. Baseball can be so monotonous, so watching a game played in a non-traditional setting gives new life to the game.
We here at the Action Network are capping this series every which way. You can read Sean Zerillo's full game preview here, Charlie DiSturco's hitter props here, and Billy Ward's approach to NRFI/YRFI here.
I’m in charge of pitching props, and I’ve found one prop worth betting for each starting pitcher on Saturday – Adam Wainwright and Justin Steele.
Adam Wainwright Over 1.5 Walks (+105)
Waino’s 6.5% walk rate doesn’t jump off the page. He pitches to a lot of contact, so most of his balls end up in play – his 17.1% early ball-in-play rate (on 0-0, 0-1 and 1-1 counts) ranks in the 84th percentile of pitchers.
But Waino’s nibbled more as he’s aged.
He ranks in the first percentile of pitchers in whiff rate, so he can’t blow pitches by hitters or put guys away with two strikes.
Waino has to work the edges and the corners.
Meanwhile, his Location+ metrics have steadily dropped over the past few seasons, down from 104 to 102.
Combine those two factors, and you get some worrying stats. Over his past three starts, Wainwright has a 39.1% strike rate and a 39.4% ball rate.
To be fair, those rates don’t include balls in play, which is where Wainwright makes his money. But it’s a discernable difference from his season-long statistics (40.5% strike, 37.7% ball), and I believe still illustrates my overall point: Wainwright is missing the zone more often than usual.
Again, Wainwright’s 6.5% walk rate doesn’t jump off the page. But you may be surprised to hear he’s cashed over 1.5 walks in five of his past seven starts. He doesn't get behind in the count much, but he’s missing his spots more when he does.
The Cubs should prove a difficult matchup for Wainwright. Against right-handed pitching this year, the Cubs are fifth in walk rate, drawing a free pass about 10% of the time. That number has stayed steady over the past 30 days.
These Cubs are very patient. They draw more pitches per plate appearance than any team in baseball (4.11). Projected Chicago hitters with notably large walk rates include:
- Mike Tauchman: 16.8%
- Ian Happ: 15.8%
- Seiya Suzuki: 11.6%
- Dansby Swanson: 11.3%
Between Wainwright’s middling command stats and the Cubbies’ ultra-patient approach, I’ll bank on Waino allowing a couple of free passes for the sixth time in eight tries this Saturday. Considering the trends, I’m shocked we’re getting this number at plus money.
This play correlates well with a pitcher prop that my colleagues Sean Zerillo and PropBetGuy are on: Wainwright under 16.5 outs (-140).
If I’m right about my analysis, the Cubs should wear down Wainwright and keep him from staying in the game long.
Personally, I’m more confident in the walk prop because of the plus-money price and because Wainwright has cashed over 16.5 outs in four of his past six starts. But both props are probably worth hitting.
Justin Steele Under 4.5 Strikeouts (-155)
Justin Steele came out of the gates firing in 2023, leveraging his four-seam and slider into major whiff numbers.
But he’s slowed down severely since:
- First three starts: 15.3% SwSt, 30.2% CSW, 19 K in 19 IP
- Past 10 starts: 11.5% SwSt, 26.6% CSW, 42 K in 53 ⅔ IP
Steele forced 18 whiffs on his slider during his first 19 innings. He’s forced 32 in the 54 innings since.
The regression makes sense. Steele is a pitch-to-contact guy with an elite batted-ball profile and a 50% ground-ball rate. He never walks anyone (three walks in his last five starts) because he mostly throws the ball in the zone (48% zone rate, 74th percentile) and gets guys to roll over.
Then again, Steele could’ve been hurt. He left his May 31 start against Tampa with forearm tightness and only returned last week.
He also could still be hurt. It’s worth noting Steele’s fastball velocity was down a tick in his start last week (91.6 mph).
Ultimately, I’m not sure if it matters. I still think Steele is a tad overvalued in the strikeout market. He’s cashed under 4.5 Ks in six of his past eight starts.
That stretch includes a start against St. Louis where he only struck out only three Cardinals across six frames. He recorded zero whiffs on 28 sliders and had a paltry 19% CSW rate overall.
While the Cardinals are an average team from a plate discipline perspective, they employ a relatively righty-heavy lineup, a problem for Steele. Steele has a 29% strikeout rate against left-handed hitters, but that number drops to 19% against the other side.
And unfortunately for him, one of the two southpaws in this lineup is Lars Nootbar, a damn tough out. His 21% strikeout rate doesn’t scream plate-discipline guru, but he ranks above the 70th percentile in Whiff rate and about the 95th percentile in Walk rate and Chase rate – he’s got a great eye.
In that aforementioned start, Steele managed to get Paul DeJong and William Contreras swinging on four-seamers. However, he also managed to sneak an outside fastball past All-World superstar hitter Paul Goldschmidt on a full count.
Steele won’t get Goldy looking like this tomorrow right? (looking at u4.5 Ks) pic.twitter.com/xxbf4iMo9N
— Tanner McGrath (@tannerstruth) June 24, 2023
Yeah, sorry, I don’t see that happening again. I’ll take the Under.
McGrath's Prop Bets for Cubs vs. Cardinals
Adam Wainwright o1.5 walks (+105)
Justin Steele u4.5 strikeouts (-150)
As of this writing, the only market that has opened pitcher props for this game is DraftKings. Be sure to shop around to find the best odds in each market. To help with that, visit our MLB props page.