MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Dodgers: how to Bet Sunday Night Baseball (Sunday, June 27)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy.
- The Chicago Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Sunday in Major League Baseball action.
- Clayton Kershaw journeys to the hill for the Dodgers, who are large favorites against the Cubs.
- Sean Zerillo breaks down the game below and has made a player prop his top selection.
Editor’s note: Max Muncy is not in the Dodgers’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Cubs.
Cubs vs. Dodgers Odds
|Over/Under||8 (-106 / -115)|
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
The Los Angeles Dodgers (46-31) hope to secure a series win against the Chicago Cubs (42-35) when they square off on Sunday Night Baseball.
The reigning World Series champions lost the first game of this series in Thursday’s 4-0 defeat via a combined no-hitter, but rallied to notch a 6-2 win on Friday and 3-2 victory Saturday to clinch a series split at worst.
The Dodgers are playing at a 97-win pace, but still sit 4.5 games behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants. Meanwhile, the Cubs are exceeding expectations by playing at an 88-win pace, but are stuck two games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and are three games behind the San Diego Padres in the NL Wild Card standings.
If the playoffs started today, the Cubs would be on the outside looking in. And if the Giants continue to play well, any NL East or NL Central representatives might need to win their division, as the West could secure the maximum of three playoff bids heading into the postseason.
Can the Cubs earn a split against the Dodgers, plus make up some ground in both the divisional and wild card races?
Talented Bullpen Powering Chicago This Season
The Cubs have seemingly been Sunday Night Baseball regulars this season, and I have covered this team from various perspectives.
They rank 19th in expected wOBA or xwOBA on offense (.310) and 21st in xwOBA allowed (.327) on the pitching side while ranking 13th in Defensive Runs Saved or DRS (+14), so they don’t appear to be particularly strong or weak in any facet of the game.
Chicago’s bullpen (3.93 xFIP, 7th; 17% K-BB%, 7th) is its greatest strength and has helped balance a below-average starting rotation (4.45 xFIP, 23rd; 10.9% K-BB%, 29th) thus far.
Ryan Tepera (2.60 xERA, 3.48 xFIP, 3.08 SIERA) and Andrew Chafin (2.42 xERA, 3.92 xFIP, 3.59 SIERA) have pitched three times in five days, and Keegan Thompson (4.85 xERA, 4.24 xFIP, 4.33 SIERA) has worked back to back games. So, all three might either be limited or less effective than usual.
Fortunately, the Cubs will have their most effective starter — Adbert Alzolay (4.39 xERA, 3.55 xFIP, 3.60 SIERA, 20% K-BB%) — covering the early part of the contest. He throws a five-pitch mix (four-seamer, sinker, slider, changeup and curveball), while leaning heavily upon his slider.
Amongst qualified starters, Alzolay ranks fifth in slider usage (42.7%) and eighth in slider pitch value (+8.1) behind Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon and Shane Bieber.
Adbert Alzolay, Wicked 86mph Slider. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/Azyssgpave
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 22, 2021
Alzolay’s BABIP (.232) and HR/FB rate (21.4%) are both due for regression, meaning his WHIP (1.03) is likely a bit low (career 1.16), but his ERA (4.19) is also a touch high.
Additionally, he’s transformed from a flyball pitcher (32.4% groundball rate in 2019) to a groundball pitcher (46%) in 2021 by ditching his curveball (34% usage in 2020, 35.7% groundball rate on the pitch) for more sinkers and sliders.
I haven’t mentioned Patrick Wisdom, who has slowed down (.210 wOBA since June 15) after a hot start. The projection market calls for a wOBA between .309 to .319 for the 29-year-old infielder, but he has posted a .418 wOBA to date on a .379 xwOBA, so he has both overachieved and overperformed.
Wisdom has also posted +2 DRS in 175 innings at third base, so he’s adding value on both sides of the ball. But most projection systems doubt that he can sustain this level, particularly while carrying a 40.2% strikeout rate – which ranks amongst the likes of Miguel Sano (41.3%) and Javier Baez (41.2%) since making his debut.
Baez (37.8%) owns the highest qualified strikeout rate on the season. That mark would be the highest since his rookie year (41.5%) when he batted .169.
As a result, unless Wisdom makes more contact, it’s hard to imagine that his early returns are sustainable.
Offensively, the Cubs rank 12th against left-handed pitching (102 wRC+), and on a per-pitch basis, they rank second in batting value against sliders, which is a positive indicator against the slider dominant Clayton Kershaw.
Los Angeles Dodgers
I mentioned Alzolay’s slider reliance in the section above, but no starter throws his slider more than Kershaw, who has steadily increased his usage of the pitch as his fastball velocity has declined:
Kershaw throws his slider a league-high 47.1% of the time, and the pitch ranks fourth in total pitch value generated (+11.7) for a slider. It ranks 25th on a per-pitch basis.
Kershaw’s expected indicators (3.12 xERA, 2.96 xFIP, 3.08 SIERA, 24.8% K-BB%) are at their best levels since 2017, and perhaps getting additional rest before a shortened 2020 campaign did his arm some good.
Kershaw’s swinging-strike rate (15.9%) and called-strike plus whiff rate or CSW% (31.8%) have helped to drive his resurgence, and his slider effectiveness mostly drives those improvements.
The Dodgers have had one of the top bullpens in baseball for the past few seasons, but they have fallen to midpack (4.11 xFIP, 12th; 14% K-BB%, 19th) this year and have sustained injuries to pieces like swingman Dustin May and the flamethrowing Corey Knebel.
They’re a little banged up entering this game. Blake Treinen, David Price, Joe Kelly and Victor Gonzalez have pitched three times in the past five days.
Their offense has also faced several injury concerns, and Corey Seager is still out with a fractured hand, but the remainder of their regular lineup is intact.
They rank fourth in xwOBA (.336) offensively and first in xwOBA allowed (.291) on the pitching side. However, the Dodgers’ defense, like their bullpen, has fallen from top of the table to midpack (+14 DRS, 13th) which is a big reason why the Dodgers have gone from “elite” to merely “very good” from one year to the next.
Offensively, the Dodgers rank second against right-handed pitching (117 wRC+). On a per-pitch basis, they rank third in batting value against sliders, both of which are strong indicators against Alzolay.
Compared to my model projected odds, I don’t see actionable betting value on any side or total for this matchup, either for the first five innings (F5) or the full game.
A slight breeze is blowing out to center field, but plate umpire Ryan Blakney also has a slight under lean (93-77, 54.7% Under). There isn’t really enough there to bump the totals in either direction.
Both the Cubs and the Under fit a couple of profitable betting systems. And Action Labs has flagged some big bet signals on the Under too.
Since both offenses have had an extreme amount of success against the opposing starter’s primary weapon, I couldn’t recommend an under wager with both bullpens a bit overworked.
Instead, I’m inclined to bet an Over prop on the Dodgers’ chief righty (156 wRC+, 15th in MLB) and slider (+4.1 pitch value, 17th in MLB) killer Max Muncy to produce some offense.
Pick: Max Muncy — Over 1.5 Total Bases