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Cubs vs. Padres Odds, Preview, Prediction: Zach Davies Starts Against Former Team (Tuesday, June 8)

Cubs vs. Padres Odds, Preview, Prediction: Zach Davies Starts Against Former Team (Tuesday, June 8) article feature image

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Zach Davies #27 of the Chicago Cubs.

  • The San Diego Padres finally broke through their extended hitting slump on Monday by notching nine runs against the Chicago Cubs.
  • On Tuesday night the two teams meet again, but this time around San Diego's bats must contend against former teammate Zach Davies on the hill for Chicago's side.
  • Below, MLB betting analyst Kenny Ducey breaks down Cubs vs. Padres, including updated odds, plus Ducey's predictions and betting pick for Tuesday's rematch.

Cubs vs. Padres Odds

Cubs Odds +165
Padres Odds -185
Over/Under 8.5 (-105 / -115)
Time 10:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via bet365.

It’s Zach Davies Day, which means once again our brains will be tied in a pretzel as we attempt to figure out how the veteran is going to pitch. The Chicago Cubs aim to avenge their 9-4 loss to the Padres on Monday — a game that may have woken up several slumping San Diego bats.

Is there value in betting on Davies to cool down the Padres? Or instead, will San Diego’s Dinelson Lamet be too much for Chicago? Let’s dig into the matchup.

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Chicago Cubs

It defies all logic, but Zach Davies has had a great season.

His 2.52 ERA over the last seven starts certainly has not been earned via fantastic swing-and-miss stuff, nor an expert ability to limit hard contact. In fact, Davies’ peripheral statistics are downright appalling:

  • 6.37 expected ERA, per Statcast.
  • 13% strikeout rate — one of the lowest in all of MLB.
  • 41.7% hard-hit rate — fairly poor for a Major League pitcher.

Yet, Davies continues to win.

Some of his success is due to the Cubs’ superb infield defense, which helps Davies pitch to contact well even when he’s allowing contact. Overall, though, Davies just keeps to his game plan, which has worked for years and years despite the analytics pointing to it being unsustainable.

His ground ball rate (47%) is at its highest mark since 2018, which explains why his average launch angle of 8.6 degrees is so remarkably low. Davies has always relied on ground ball outs without dominant strikeout stuff, and this year he has been excellent at generating ground-outs.

You may think that Davies has been incredibly lucky given his laughably high 6.37 xERA, but luck really has not played a large role in Davies’ success.

His xERA is gaudy due to the exit velocity of some of these ground balls. Perhaps the Cubs defense is firmly above average, but Davies has been normal in one of the categories I like to look at most to determine luck: Strand rate.

Davies strands 71.9% of hitters on base, which is 1.4% lower than his career average. So, it’s not as if he’s clogging up the bases and pitching his way out of trouble. He’s just executing his game plan — as ugly as it may be.

San Diego Padres

If you want to talk about ugly, look no further than the Padres offense. Even with a nine-run outburst on Monday, San Diego ranks 26th over the last two weeks with an 82 wRC+.

Fernando Tatis, Jr. has continued to rake, and the Padres have posted the 12th-best hard-hit rate, but that’s about where the nice things end. The Padres have made contact on just 74.7% of swings over that two-week span. San Diego’s poor contact rate largely renders its hard-hit percentage irrelevant. The exciting brand of small-ball that was implemented by the Padres’ bench and Triple-A players several few weeks ago is now a distant memory.

Dinelson Lamet has been great, though. The Padres have decided to work the former Opening Day starter back slowly, so he has yet to throw more than four innings in a single game. Even still, he’s posted a 2.50 ERA in seven games (five of which were starts), though he profiles out as a difficult pitcher to trust here.

Lamet allows hard contact at a 50% clip, but — unlike Davies — he is not pitching to ground balls at an extremely high rate. The right-hander’s average launch angle is 14.6 degrees, making it likely that his affinity for hard contact comes back to bite him here.

Cubs vs. Padres Pick

I never even touched on the Cubs offense in either of the previous sections, but Chicago’s lineup has really steadied lately. There’s no question that this team is going to score runs. Meanwhile, Lamet has not produced as many strikeouts this season (down 8% year-over-year). Therefore, I suspect that Lamet’s 50% hard-hit rate could prove problematic.

On the other hand, I expect Davies to quiet down this Padres team with his extreme affinity for ground balls. That should put the shift into play for Chicago, which has been a killer for several big bats in the lineup, including Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers at times.

You may hate the way that Davies pitches, but it’s about time we start talking about how effective he remains. On Zach Davies Day, I’m betting Chicago on the moneyline (+165 at bet365).

Pick: Cubs ML +165.

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