Thursday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions for Diamondbacks vs. Cubs: Bet on Zac Gallen’s Breakout to Continue (May 19)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Zac Gallen.
- The Cubs host the Diamondbacks on Thursday night in a pick 'em.
- With Zac Gallen on the mound, do the Snakes have an edge early?
- Mike Ianniello breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet below.
Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Odds
|Over/Under||9 (-114 / -106)|
|Time||7:40 p.m. ET|
Arizona was starting to play some really good baseball, winning eight out of 12 games, before running into the buzz saw that is the Los Angeles Dodgers. After a sweep in Los Angeles, the Snakes have now lost six games in a row.
A trip to Wrigley Field to face the 15-21 Chicago Cubs will be a welcomed sight for the Diamondbacks. The Cubs have been playing pretty well too though and are coming off a 2-1 series win against the Pirates after taking two of three from these Diamondbacks last weekend.
Will the Friendly Confines allow Arizona to get back on track, or will we begin to see the underachieving Snakes we saw for most of the 2021 season?
Gallen Breaking Out for the Diamondbacks
It looks like we are seeing the breakout season for 26-year-old Zac Gallen (RHP) in the desert. Through his first six starts of the season, Gallen is 2-0 with a 1.05 ERA. He does not have enough innings to qualify on the ERA leaderboard but leads the lead among all pitchers with at least 30 innings.
It would be easy to assume Gallen should be due for negative regression soon, but his xERA is only 1.89, so his results are indicative of his strong performance. He has allowed just three runs all season and has held opponents to two hits or fewer in four of his six starts.
Gallen throws his fastball over the 50% of the time, and it has been phenomenal this year. He also mixes a curveball, changeup and cutter, all of which have been excellent. He is throwing more strikes than ever and has issued just five walks all season.
Arizona’s offense has certainly been better than last season, but it’s still nothing to write home about. They rank 26th in wRC+ this year. Christian Walker and Daulton Varsho are really the only ones who have consistently performed, but luckily Ketel Marte has really turned it on lately.
Can Stroman Bounce Back for the Cubs?
In his first season with Cubs, Marcus Stroman (RHP) is set to return from the injured list after not pitching since May 1. He struggled out of the gate, going 1-3 with a 5.13 ERA in his first five starts, but a lot of that was based on two blow up games.
Stroman’s xERA is a little better at 4.71, but he has been hit around to a 53.2 Hard-Hit%, ranking in the bottom 5% of the league. Stroman throws one of most diverse pitch mixes in the league, throwing five different pitches at least 10% of the time – his sinker, slider, splitter, cutter, and fastball.
The timing of the IL-stint was rough for Stroman as his last outing was his best of the year. He went seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits on May 1 but has not pitched in 18 days.
If you’re going to be bad, it’s important to at least have aspects for your fans to get excited about. The Cubs look like they have that in rookie Seiya Suzuki. He ranks second on the team in wOBA and wRC+, trailing only Wilson Contreras, the last regular who remains from their World Series team.
Few pitchers have impressed me more this season than Gallen. He ranks in the top 10% of the league in almost all statistical categories and is allowing a .196 wOBA, 85.5 MPH Exit Velocity, and holds a 1.89 xERA. He doesn’t walk anybody and doesn’t allow hard contact.
Against the Cubs last week, Gallen allowed just two hits and one run while striking out nine batters in six innings. Chicago hit just 11 balls in play against him, and Gallen has gone at least six innings in last four starts.
Gallen going long is important because these two bullpens are on the total opposite ends of the spectrum. The Chicago bullpen ranks first in the league in reliever xFIP, while Arizona’s ranks dead last.
Over the past few weeks, the Arizona offense has been much better as Marte has started to get things going at the plate. The Snakes rank 10th in wOBA and 13th in wRC+ this month. The Cubs on the other hand, have cooled off and rank just 28th in wRC+ since the start of May.
Because of the bullpen discrepancies, I want no part of dealing with the late innings of this game. Take the Diamondbacks in the first five innings and bet on Gallen to continue dealing.
Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks First 5 Innings -110 (Play to -120)