Saturday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Betting Preview

Saturday MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Betting Preview article feature image
Credit:

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images. Pictured: Alec Mills.

  • The Diamondbacks and Cubs play the second of the three-game series Saturday afternoon at windy Wrigley Field.
  • The Cubs received good news on Friday with the return of Kris Bryant, but will it do anything to help their offense?
  • Matt Trebby explains below how he's betting Saturday's game.

Diamondbacks vs. Cubs Odds

Diamondbacks Odds +130
Cubs Odds -150
Over/Under N/A
Time Saturday, 2:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

Two teams going nowhere fast in 2021 continue their three-game series on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, when the Diamondbacks take on the Cubs.

Two starting pitchers who are faring better than you may expect over the past couple months are scheduled to toe the rubber, with Merrill Kelly set to pitch opposite Alec Mills.

Let’s break down the matchup and see where we can find betting value.

Kelly Has Emerged as Stable Option for Diamondbacks

Since returning from Korea in 2019, Kelly has provided the D-backs a stable, healthy option in the starting rotation. He only made five starts last season, but he made 32 in 2019 and is averaging almost six innings per start this season through his first 20 outings.

In those 57 starts over the past three years, Kelly has a 4.26 ERA and 4.30 xFIP. His numbers are actually comparable to his KBO stats, having registered a 4.09 ERA and 4.37 xFIP in his final season in the Far East.

The right-hander has settled into the season after a terrible first three starts that saw him allow 15 runs over 16 innings (8.44 ERA). Over his last 17 outings, Kelly has a 3.83 ERA, and that number is down to 2.56 over his last six starts.

The fact that Kelly is able to average almost six innings per game (117 innings through 20 starts) is huge for a Diamondbacks club that is looking to simply survive this season. It’s even more impressive that Kelly has provided such length, considering he hasn’t thrown 100 or more pitches in an appearance this season.

Kelly has a five-pitch arsenal that features a four-seamer, sinker, curveball, changeup and cutter. He throws either the fastball or sinker 51.6% of the time and goes to his off-speed stuff pretty equally.

Offensively, the Diamondbacks actually have been decent, ranking 15th in OPS over the past 30 days before Friday’s series opener against the Cubs.

Eduardo Escobar should be traded soon, but he has 19 RBIs and a .918 OPS over his last 22 games. Josh Rojas and Pavin Smith have been nice surprises near the top of the lineup, while Josh Reddick has been a stable bat since he was added to the roster.

Those four, and Ketel Marte when he’s healthy, make Arizona a potentially tough out against right-handed pitching. Those solid numbers are also without either lefty hitters Kole Calhoun or David Peralta swinging the bat especially well of late.

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Cubs Lineup Has Struggled Outside of Baez

The Cubs got good news on Friday afternoon with the return of Kris Bryant, who made his first start since July 19. Chicago had its core three of Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez hitting two through four against Zac Gallen, and the trio scored on a three-run home run by Báez in the first inning.

Báez is really the one of the three who has helped his trade value of late. Entering Friday, Bryant had a .634 OPS over his last 30 days, while Rizzo was at .643. Báez, meanwhile, was at .915 before his home run.

Elsewhere in the Cubs’ lineup, well, not much has gone right. Willson Contreras has been solid, while Patrick Wisdom has slowed down a bit after a red-hot start to his Cubs career.

The struggling lineup, aside from Báez, is bad news for Mills, who has been quite good since returning to the Cubs’ rotation.

Mills’ last six appearances have all been starts, and he has a 3.45 ERA over 28 2/3 innings in that span. Unfortunately, the Cubs are 2-4 in those games.

The big difference for Mills can be found in his strikeout numbers. He doesn’t overpower anyone, but he has 31 strikeouts in those 28 2/3 innings since becoming a starter again.

Mills’ numbers are a bit bloated because of his struggles out of the bullpen this season. He has a 3.58 ERA in seven starts this season and 6.41 in 12 relief appearances. His 3.05 xFIP backs up that Mills’ success starting games is legitimate.

Diamondbacks-Cubs Pick

Both starters are throwing the ball very well at the moment, although that’s not reflected in this line. Something else to consider if the wind is blowing out is that we are talking about two sinker-ballers who like to keep the ball on the ground — and they have done so pretty well of late.

As of Friday night, there wasn’t a total posted on any sportsbook because of the uncertainty surrounding the wind at Wrigley Field, which is usual for an afternoon game on the north side of Chicago. It looks like the wind is going to be blowing straight out, which is why there’s some uncertainty.

Since all we have is the moneylines as of Friday night, I’ll give a pick on that, and that’s the Cubs. Mills isn’t pitching as deep into games as Kelly, but the Cubs’ bullpen has the significant edge here, and I’ll back Chicago’s lineup to break through given the track record of its big-name guys and home run-hitting potential.

I wouldn’t play the Cubs any higher than -150.

Pick: Cubs -150

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