Cubs vs. Giants MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Chicago as a Heavy Road Underdog (Sunday, July 31)

Cubs vs. Giants MLB Odds, Pick & Preview: Back Chicago as a Heavy Road Underdog (Sunday, July 31) article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Seiya Suzuki.

  • The Cubs are heavy road underdogs on Sunday Night Baseball against the Giants in San Francisco.
  • The Cubs will send Adrian Sampson to the mound while the Giants will counter with Carlos Rodon.
  • Tanner McGrath digs into the matchup and offers up a best bet below.

Cubs vs. Giants Odds

Cubs Odds+165
Giants Odds-200
Time7:08 p.m. ET
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

We're getting Carlos Rodon on Sunday Night Baseball? Sign me up!

The Cy Young hopeful will face off against a middling Cubs team in the middle of a firesale. It's not the most enticing matchup, but there are plenty of reasons to watch this game.

One is to gamble on it.

So, let's find where the value lies in this matchup.

Cubs Surging Since the All-Star Break

There's nothing special about the Cubs. They're a .415 ballclub that's dealing away veterans on short-term deals for prospects. Willson Contreras is being dealt alongside Ian Happ. Who knows who else is out the door?

Seiya Suzuki is back in the lineup. He hasn't been the elite hitter he was to open the season, but he's back to being a plus-hitter. He's only struck out 15 times over the last 80 PAs with an OPS above .800. His progression is the biggest thing to monitor down the stretch for the Cubs.

Things have been fun lately, however. The Cubs have won six of seven since the All-Star break, including sweeping the Phillies in Philadelphia. The rotation during that time has a 1.01 ERA, with guys like Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, and Drew Smyly dealing.

The bullpen has been the biggest bright spot for the Cubs this season, having posted the third-lowest xFIP (3.62). The David Robertson-Scott Effross-Mychal Givens unit deserves a lot of respect.

Of course, who knows if any of them will be on the team by the time this game starts on Sunday.

Per @DWolfsonKSTP, the #Twins have engaged the #Cubs in trade talks involving RHP David Robertson.

Robertson has a 1.93 ERA over 37 1/3 innings, with 48 Ks. A legitimate high leverage bullpen piece.

— MLB Deadline News (@MLBDeadlineNews) July 22, 2022

Starting Pitcher: Adrian Sampson (RHP)

Adrian Sampson is a weak-contact righty. He's got a softball fastball that he pairs with a sinker, alongside his secondary changeup and slider.

Sampson's entire arsenal is league-average. His five-pitch mix has recorded a combined -2 Run Value, with his three highest-used pitches having a +0 Run Value. It's almost impressive how average he is.

Sampson could be due for a bit of negative regression, with his .274 BABIP fueling the difference between his 3.20 ERA and 3.81 xERA. However, the sample size is small, so who knows what to expect going forward?

Projections have him finishing the season with an ERA closer to five, so maybe Sampson is far overvalued. But maybe the projections are wrong, and he's a very enticing young righty in the Cubs organization.

Watch the game to find out!

Can Yastrzemski and the Giants Find Some Consistency?

I keep wondering if the Giants overperformed their true-talent level by that much last season. Were they due for this much regression? From a 107-win season to an 80-win one?

They are hurt. Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, and Joc Pederson are all currently on the IL. But this offense has been uninspiring, and the usually-great Giants defense has been poverty —  San Francisco ranks second-to-last in both Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average.

My hope is that Mike Yastrzemski finds some consistency with his play. When he's hot, he's a legit young outfielder, but he goes on these crazy cold streaks. He's slashing .174/.260/.304 this month for an OPS under .575.

His Baseball Savant page paints a picture of a player with solid plate discipline and half-decent contact numbers, but there's not much else to draw from it. I have no idea what to expect from Yaz in the future, but his bat is a huge part of the Giants' potential success.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

If you're a Giants fan, I guess you can still hold out hope for a Wild Card spot. But where does this team go from here? There's not much room to be buyers, and the Giants aren't underperforming any expected statistics.

It's a confounding situation in the Bay.

Starting Pitcher: Carlos Rodon (LHP)

But this guy isn't confounding at all. Rodon is an elite pitcher, and there might be some value on him in the Cy Young markets (+2200 at Caesars).

There are three pitchers in the National League with an fWAR of at least 3.7. That list includes Sandy Alcantara (4.0), Max Fried (3.8), and Rodon. Rodon easily records the most strikeouts of that bunch (11.48 K/9) and consequently has the best FIP of the group (2.41).

His fastball is unreal. He's allowing just a .290 xwOBA on the fastball while getting guys to Whiff over 26% of the time, accumulating a -12 Run Value on the pitch this season. As the pitch improves, Rodon throws it more and more.

There are two main problems with Rodon this season.

First, Rodon is an issue on the road.

  • 2022 Carlos Rodon at home: 44 IP, 2.05 ERA, 12.89 K/9, 2.80 xFIP
  • 2022 Carlos Rodon on road: 71 IP, 3.88 ERA, 10.63 K/9, 3.35 xFIP

Second, Rodon struggles against lineups that wreck lefties. I keep going back to the Giants-Cardinals game on May 15th. The Cardinals are a top-three southpaw-hitting team in the league, and they took Rodon for eight runs over 3 2/3 innings.

The Cubs are just a league-average team against LHPs, so I doubt Rodon has a big problem against them. Rodon faced the Cubs once last season with the White Sox and tossed five scoreless innings while striking out 11.

I think Rodon will be fine.

Cubs-Giants Pick

It's a hold-your-nose pick, but there's value with the Cubs on Sunday Night.

Sampson provides hope, and the Cubs' bullpen has been genuinely elite. So while Rodon should come in and shut down this Cubs lineup, there's more upside with the Cubs pitching staff at huge plus-money.

Moreover, the Cubs are much better defensively and can field a full team. The Giants' injuries are massive, given the two best hitters by OPS+ are off the field on Sunday Night Baseball (Longoria and Pederson).

I think there's a good chance the Cubs steal this one on the road, and they're playing well enough since the All-Star break to trust them. At anything better than +160, I'll be on Chicago.

Pick: Chicago Cubs (+167 at bet365 | Play to +160)

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