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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction Cubs vs. Dodgers: Chicago Has Value Against Buehler (Thursday, June 24)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction Cubs vs. Dodgers: Chicago Has Value Against Buehler (Thursday, June 24) article feature image

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Zach Davies.

  • The Chicago Cubs make the journey out west Thursday, starting their four-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • Zach Davies will take the mound for the Cubs, who will face Walker Buehler and the favored Dodgers.
  • BJ Cunningham breaks down the game below and explains why he finds plenty on underdog Chicago.

Cubs vs. Dodgers Odds

Cubs Odds +210
Dodgers Odds -265
Over/Under 8.5 (-117/-105)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Thursday morning via DraftKings.

Two of the best teams in the National League open up a four-game series on Thursday as the Chicago  Cubs travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers.

It’s been a resurgent year for the Cubs, who currently have the fourth-best NL record and sit just a half game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. They’ve hit a bit of a lull, going 4-6 over their past 10 games and will need starting pitcher Zach Davies to give them a solid six innings if they’re going to hang with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles hasn’t been playing up to its preseason expectations, currently trailing the San Francisco Giants by four games in the NL West. The Dodgers are also coming off a sweep at the hands of the San Diego Padres.

The Los Angeles bullpen has actually let it down this season, as it has been pretty average by MLB standards. That said, the bullpen will hope starting pitcher Walker Buehler can give them some relief.

Offensive Matchup

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs’ lineup has actually been very average, as it only has a .307 wOBA and 95 wRC+. It’s basically been the Kris Bryant-Anthony Rizzo-Patrick Wisdom show for Chicago, as all three guys have a  wOBA over .360.

However, it will be a difficult matchup for the Cubs, because they’ve been middle-of-the-road versus right handed, ranking 17th in terms of wOBA.

Buehler is mainly a fastball pitcher, throwing it 49.6% of the time and that’s actually the pitch the Cubs have struggled against the most this season, ranking 23rd in baseball.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers’ offense has been really good, but really only against right-handed pitching. They have a .338 wOBA and 119 wRC+, which is the second-best mark in baseball.

They also have a fantastic matchup against Zach Davies, because he’s mainly a sinker/changeup pitcher and Los Angeles has five guys in its lineup with a wOBA over .400 against sinkers. The club is also the third-best team in baseball against changeups.

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Starting Pitching Matchup

Zach Davies vs. Walker Buehler

2021 Stats (via FanGraphs)

Cubs Starting Pitcher

Zach Davies, RHP

2021 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Davies has really been below average, as his xERA has ballooned up to 6.33 and his xFIP is currently sits at 5.30. His biggest problem is he’s walking way too many guys, as his BB/9 rate is over four, which will be a problem against this Dodgers since they have the league’s highest walk percentage.

Davies mainly goes to either his sinker or changeup over 85% of the time, which is really going to be a problem since the Dodgers crush those pitches.

Dodgers Starting Pitcher

Walker Buehler, RHP

2021 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Buehler has been outstanding for the Dodgers, but he’s due for a bit of negative regression since his xERA and xFIP are more than a run higher than his ERA. However, this will be a good matchup for him, because he’s mainly a fastball pitcher and that’s the one pitch the Cubs struggle to hit.

As far as his offspeed pitches are concerned, Buehler better be careful with how he mixes them in, because Chicago excels against cutters and curveballs, ranking in the top half of baseball against both pitches.

Bullpen/Defensive Matchup

The Cubs will have the advantage in the later innings during this series. Chicago has one of the best bullpens in baseball, posting a 2.63 ERA and a 3.91 xFIP. They also have the second-highest K/9 rate; third lowest HR/9 rate; and, highest LOB% in Major League Baseball.

On the other hand, the Dodgers have been average. Los Angeles has posted at 4.15 xFIP, and also has the ninth worst BB/9 rate. Another big issue is the bullpen is struggling to get out of jams, as it has the third-worst LOB% in baseball.

Cubs-Dodgers Pick

Even though this is a great matchup on paper for the Dodgers, I think this line is a little inflated. The Cubs’ bullpen should be able to right the ship if Davies gets into trouble and the offense should be able to have some success against Buehler’s off-speed pitches.

Since I only have the Dodgers projected at -144 odds, I think there is some value on the Cubs at +210 and would play them down to +165 in this matchup.

Pick: Cubs ML (+200)

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