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Dodgers vs. Cubs Odds, Pick & Preview: Cubs Worth a Look as Home Underdogs (Sunday, May 8)

Dodgers vs. Cubs Odds, Pick & Preview: Cubs Worth a Look as Home Underdogs (Sunday, May 8) article feature image
Credit:

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin. Pictured: Marcus Stroman

  • The Dodgers and Cubs will go head-to-head on Sunday Night Baseball.
  • The Dodgers are the better team, but there may be some value on the Cubs as underdogs at Wrigley Field.
  • Tanner McGrath shares his best bet below.

Dodgers vs. Cubs Odds

Dodgers Odds -200
Cubs Odds +175
Over/Under 7
Time 7:08 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Predictably, Clayton Kershaw shoved on Saturday afternoon. Wrigley Field was as quiet as ever as Kershaw and Co. cruised to a 7-0 victory.

The Cubs have now fallen to 9-16 and 8.5 games back in the National League Central race and breakout superstar Seiya Suzuki has cooled off considerably from his hot start.

Meanwhile, things are proceeding as expected in Los Angeles. At 17-7, the Dodgers have built a small lead over San Diego in the NL West. As an aside — recent surges from Arizona and Colorado mean all five NL West teams are above .500.

With Walker Buehler on the mound, the Dodgers have predictably opened higher than -200. But with Marcus Stroman pitching for Chicago, are the home underdog Cubbies worth a look?

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Lineup Loaded with Talent

The Dodgers’ one-through-nine is insane.

The current leader in bWAR for the 2022 Dodgers? It’s Gavin Lux, who occupies the nine-hole in the lineup.

That’s just how talented this team is. Everyone on the team can hit, hit for power (12th in ISO) and play defense (13th in Defensive Runs Saved).

Inside the box, Freddie Freeman is having a great time on the West Coast. His 152 OPS+ leads the Dodgers and while he isn’t hitting the ball supremely hard (66th percentile in avg. exit velocity), he’s posted an xSLG near .600. That’s something he’s done every year in the Statcast era.

Freddie Freeman has doubled or tripled in three of his first four games this month. Dodgers lead 1-0 two batters in.

— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) May 7, 2022

I continue to wonder if Mookie Betts will ever have another 10-WAR season. I’m starting to lean toward no.

While Betts’ plate discipline and fielding ability are as good as ever, his ability to smash the baseball continues to falter year over year. His 89.1-mph avg. exit velocity and 38.6% hard-hit rate would be the lowest since 2015 if stretched out over a full season.

Betts is still a competent hitter, one who has posted a 127 wRC+ so far this season. He’ll never be an MVP candidate again, but his high-level defense and solid offensive contributions make his contract worth it — at least for a big-market team like the Dodgers.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

All-in-all, who cares! The Dodgers are still eighth in OPS (.712) and wRC+ (110). This lineup will score plenty of runs and the pitching staff is as good as any in baseball.

Starting Pitcher: Walker Buehler (RHP)

While Lux is the Dodgers’ bWAR leader, Buehler ranks second in that stat. He’s been overshadowed a bit after Kershaw’s hot start, but he’s been as good as any pitcher in baseball.

Buehler’s best trait is his ability to make quality starts. He’s made five starts of five-plus innings in 2022, allowing more than two runs twice and pitching shutouts twice. That includes a complete-game shutout in Arizona where he allowed just three hits with a 10 strikeouts and no walks.

Walker doesn’t do anything special. He just has a complete arsenal and is a very smart pitcher.

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on with Buehler’s fastball. In 2020, he threw it more than half the time. This season, that number is down to a third.

Moreover, the four-seam has been getting rocked. Buehler has posted a +4 Run-Value on the pitch this year, with hitters slugging .563.

Buehler has talked a bit about it this year. He’s had trouble hitting his spot with the four-seam in the past, so he’s dialed back the velocity. That pitch now sits around 94-mph on the gun, rather than at 98-mph, where it did back in 2020.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

After allowing three runs to the Braves a few weeks ago, Buehler talked about his fastball usage, as recorded on MLB.com:

“The only way I feel that I’m getting guys out or getting swings and miss is with the cutter right now,” Buehler said. “So we’re going to lean on the stuff that I feel like gives us the best chance to win with. … I don’t think there’s any excuse for it. We’re here and I just have to be better.”

It’s pretty clear Buehler is leaning on that pitch more. And it’s become his most effective pitch this season, with a -4 Run-Value and a 32.8% Whiff rate. In a few years, you might see Buehler’s cutter is his go-to.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

It’s worth noting that the Cubs have posted -2.3 weighted cutter runs created so far in 2022, which ranks 27th in MLB. So, we may get a steady stream of Buehler cutters on Sunday Night.


Chicago Cubs: When Will Suzuki Get Back on Track?

Through 15 games this season, Suzuki had an OBP above .500 and an OPS over 1.200. He had gone 3-for-4 with a double in a 21-0 win over Pittsburgh and the Cubbies had moved to 7-8 on the season.

Since then, Suzuki is 4-for-37 with a 12:1 K/BB ratio. His BABIP is down around .160 and that will come around, but it still doesn’t explain his lack of plate discipline. The Cubs are 2-7 during the stretch.

Suzuki is the heart and soul of the Cubs this year. He’s the one guy Cubs fans can rally around during what should amount to a lost season. Therefore, his slump is not well received by the Wrigleyville faithful.


I’m not overly worried. Suzuki should get back to producing. But as a Suzuki NL Rookie of the Year ticket holder, I’m stressed about O’Neil Cruz’s eventual promotion.

Over the past seven days, the Cubs have posted a ridiculously low 53 wRC+, a number only better than the A’s 45. The lineup is striking out over 37% of the time, with the last-place Reds sitting at only 30% during the same stretch.

Things are tough in Chicago right now, which is why the Cubs are only 3-7 over the past 10 games.

Starting Pitcher: Marcus Stroman (RHP)

Stroman does what he does. He pitches to contact, tries to induce weak contact and keeps the ball inside the park. He’s never been the biggest walk guy and his xFIP generally hangs in the mid-3.00s.

However, his batted ball statistics are concerning. He ranks in the ninth percentile in avg. exit velocity (92-mph) and in the sixth percentile in hard-hit rate (53.2%).

You can see Stroman’s exit velocity is up across all his major pitches.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

This is not how Stroman pitches. His ground-ball rate dropped significantly in New York and is even lower in Chicago (45.6%, 57.1% career). He just hasn’t been executing his style.

Not only that, but his BABIP is only .267. There could be further negative regression coming for Stroman, who has an ERA north of 5.00.

Stroman’s xERA is still relatively low (4.59) and his xFIP has remained in the mid-3.00s. Meanwhile, some projections have him dropping his ERA down under 4.00 by year’s end, which would indicate a good stretch is coming.

But honestly, I’m relatively low on Stroman going forward.

Dodgers-Cubs Pick

However, +175 is too high. Fellow Action Network MLB expert Sean Zerillo projects the Cubs at roughly +150 for the full game and I’m inclined to agree.

Through the first month of this season, the Dodgers are first in MLB in reliever FIP and xFIP (2.69 and 2.98, respectively). But while the Cubs are 18th in reliever FIP (3.69), they are tied for first with the Dodgers in xFIP (2.98).

My point is that the Cubs are slightly undervalued right now. The lineup has been horrid and I’m low on Stroman. However, we should be able to buy low on the Cubs in the coming days and weeks and I’m excited to start here.

If I’m catching over +160 with Stroman and Co. on Sunday Night, I’ll be on that side.

Pick: Cubs ML (+175 at Wynn | Play to +160)

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