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Wednesday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Reds: How to Back Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati (August 18)

Wednesday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Reds: How to Back Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati (August 18) article feature image

Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Mahle.

  • Following an upset win Tuesday, the Cubs look to secure a series win in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
  • Chicago is a big underdog with Adrian Sampson on the mound opposite the Reds' Tyler Mahle.
  • D.J. James breaks down the matchup below and delivers his pick.

Cubs vs. Reds Odds

Cubs Odds +245
Reds Odds -310
Over/Under 9.5
Time 12:35 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Tuesday and via DraftKings.

Adrian Sampson has been cast to help dig the Chicago Cubs out of the trenches against a playoff contender.

Godspeed, Adrian.

Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds are closing in on the second National League wild-card and with the way the San Diego Padres have played and their difficult upcoming schedule, it’s not unrealistic that the Reds take over that spot in the playoffs.

Tyler Mahle is set to take the hill for Cincinnati on Wednesday, so the Cubs will have their hands full in the afternoon slate of games. Do they have any value in this matchup?

Sampson Doesn’t Help Chicago in Matinee

Sampson last toed the Major League rubber in 2019 with the Rangers and sported a 1.53 WHIP, 6.46 xERA and 47.2% hard-hit percentage in 125 1/3 innings.

It is understandable how he has not landed on an MLB 26-man roster in a little while. Sampson’s 4.96 ERA in the minors with a comparable 1.53 WHIP does not tell the story that he can compete with the likes of the Reds offense, one that ranks second in wRC+ in the month of August.

This matchup is horrendous for Sampson, especially considering this is one of the best hitting teams against right-handers this season. He may be in for a rude re-awakening.

The Cubs lineup pulled into Tuesday night’s game with a 68 wRC+ against righties since Aug. 1. In fact, in that same timeframe, only Frank Schwindel and Rafael Ortega have hit above the 100 wRC+ league average mark. Patrick Wisdom and Willson Contreras, two major fixtures in this 2021 lineup, have struggled mightily since the trade deadline, as well.

In addition, the Cubs lost their best bullpen arms at the deadline. They have an 8.39 (!!!) ERA since the beginning of August. Maybe Rex Brothers or Codi Heuer could come to their rescue when they are ultimately down early in this one but after Sampson, the Cubs have very little reasonable backup in this game.

Cincinnati Poised for Postseason Push

As for the Reds starter, Mahle has strong peripherals. The last time out against the Cubs he only struck out two batters but held them to six baserunners over six innings.

Yes, the Cubs hit him well in early May, but this is a completely different, slumping offense than that team was. Mahle will strike out hitters at an above-average clip while mainly featuring his fastball and slider.

Given the complete contrast in starters in this one, he has the major upper hand.

The Reds lineup, as stated above, has ripped the cover off of the ball in August. This has launched them into striking distance of a postseason berth and could very well be the reason for an October run.

Sure, Cincinnati lost Jesse Winker to the injured list, but in August, almost every hitter on the team has an OBP over .340, which is incredible.

As of this moment, the Reds do not really have any holes in the lineup and getting to play a Quadruple-A pitcher in this game gives them a massive edge.

The weakest part of this Reds roster is the relief corps. Since Aug. 1, Cincinnati’s bullpen has a 4.65 xFIP and 4.70 FIP, so it’s right in line with short-term expectations.

Losing Tejay Antone and Art Warren greatly hindered this bullpen, but adding Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa has helped back up the starting staff a bit. Mahle should not need much help, but he has a few arms behind him to come in for the closing duties, if needed.

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Cubs-Reds Pick

Frankly, the Cubs have zero edges in this game. Their slumping lineup and bullpen combined with a spot starter is the perfect concoction for a Reds offensive feast.

Take the Reds run line at -1.5 (-155) and play to (-170). They should win this one handily.

Pick: Reds -1.5 (-155, play to -170)

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