Cubs vs Diamondbacks Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Sunday, September 17

Cubs vs Diamondbacks Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Sunday, September 17 article feature image

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images. Pictured: Christian Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks Odds

Sunday, September 17
7:10 p.m. ET
Cubs Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-122 / +100
Diamondbacks Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-122/ +100
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The National League Wild Card race is heating up, and the Chicago Cubs, who once looked comfortable in the second spot, have dropped back-to-back games against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now just one game separates the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins for the final two spots.

Looking to avoid a sweep, Chicago sends rookie left-hander Jordan Wicks to the mound. Arizona matches with right-hander Ryne Nelson, who has struggled all season long despite some positives in his underlying metrics.

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Chicago Cubs

Jordan Wicks was called up in late August and has been an incredibly consistent arm in the backend of the rotation. In four starts, he has a sparkling 1.99 ERA and has yet to give up more than two runs in an outing.

What's been most impressive is Wicks' barrel rate of 1.4%; he doesn't overpower opponents, but they have failed to make any hard contact.

The southpaw's xFIP is up in the mid-3s, and his xERA sits around 2.70, but his peripherals all grade out well above average. He has a 33% chase rate, over a 50% ground ball rate and rarely issues walks. He throws his changeup over 30% of the time, and it's been one of the most effective pitches in baseball. His xBA and xSLG sit at .124 and .224, respectively.

The Cubs offense ranks 11th in wRC+ over the last 14 days, but more importantly, they have the fourth-lowest strikeout rate in that span.

It has been Seiya Suzuki and Christopher Morel carrying Chicago, combining for eight home runs and 23 RBIs over the past two weeks. In general, Chicago is 13th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching.

Despite a 13-inning game last night, Justin Steele being able to pitch deep into the series opener has given the bullpen a huge upper hand here. Only Marcus Stroman has pitched on back-to-back days. The Cubs are also off tomorrow, so the kitchen sink can be thrown to secure a win.

Arizona Diamondbacks

After being sent down in mid-August, Ryne Nelson returned after a month and threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Cubs. He was subsequently battered by the Mets five days later.

While underlying metrics do like Nelson, success has been few and far between.

Nelson's biggest issue has been his inability to not only overpower the opposition – he's got a 15.1 K% – but he rarely generates chases and is a flyball pitcher. Opponents haven't had an issue hitting the right-hander hard – he has a 43% hard-hit rate and an 11.7 barrel% – and Nelson ranks in the bottom 6% of all pitchers in xSLG.

That high barrel rate has translated to plenty of home runs, too. Since July, Nelson has given up 14 home runs in 10 starts.

The Diamondbacks will need a good start out of Nelson because, unlike the Cubs, they emptied the bullpen on back-to-back days to secure wins.

Ryan Thompson, Ken Ginkel, Andrew Saalfrank and Paul Sewald were used each game, which leaves the Diamondbacks extremely shorthanded.

Offensively, the Diamondbacks are down at 23rd in wRC+ and 25th in ISO against left-handed pitching. Over the last two weeks, while they have beaten up on the Cubs this series, Arizona's offense is down at 25th in wRC+. They have struggled a bit, which has led to a thin room for error amid a tight playoff race.

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks

Betting Pick & Prediction

If you read my Triple 7s, a tri-weekly column in which I break down my favorite total bases/home run props, then you're not surprised to see me all over Christian Walker in this matchup. This is a perfect buy-low opportunity for a slugger who has been struggling over the past two weeks (.170 average, .500 OPS).

But in his rolling flyball and hard-hit graphs, we haven't seen much of a dip in either. In fact, he's been hitting the ball in the air a lot more – a huge uptick from about 20-30 games ago – and his hard-hit rate has remained steady.

Walker is the most consistent bat against left-handed pitching in this Arizona lineup with a 142 wRC+ and .316 ISO. In fact, 35% of all hits have left the park, and he has over a 50% extra-base hit rate when facing southpaws.

As for the Cubs, I am targeting Cody Bellinger here. He has had a career revival in Chicago and, alongside Seiya Suzuki, is the most consistent bat against right-handed pitching. His wRC+ sits at 125 with a .211 ISO. And surprisingly, he's been even better against left-handed pitching, in case Arizona tries to opt for a lefty-lefty matchup later in the game. He has a .985 OPS and .342 average against southpaws.

I'll be sprinkling a half unit on both Walker and Bellinger to have 2+ total bases in a plus matchup on Sunday night.

Pick: Christian Walker o1.5 TBs (+125) | Cody Bellinger o1.5 TBs (+110)

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