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MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Diamondbacks: Will Arizona Keep Losing Against Johnny Cueto? (Thursday, July 1)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Giants vs. Diamondbacks: Will Arizona Keep Losing Against Johnny Cueto? (Thursday, July 1) article feature image

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images. Pictured: Johnny Cueto.

  • The Arizona Diamondbacks will host the San Francisco Giants in NL West action on Thursday night.
  • The Giants have absolutely dominated the Diamondbacks this season, taking all six games.
  • Check out Michael Arinze's betting preview for the game below to find his pick and prediction based on his betting analysis.

Giants vs. Diamondbacks Odds

Giants Odds -140
Diamondbacks Odds +115
Over/Under 9 (+100 / -120)
Time 9:40 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday morning and via BetMGM.

The Giants look to continue their dominance over the Diamondbacks when they travel to Arizona for a four-game series. San Francisco has won all six meetings against Arizona this year. Ironically, it entered each series off a loss, and that’s exactly the scenario it finds itself in on Thursday night.

In fact, both teams come into this series on losing streaks as San Francisco has lost its last three games and Arizona its last four.

However, unlike the Diamondbacks, losing streaks are a rare occurrence for the Giants this season. San Francisco has lost two straight games four times this year and three straight games just twice.

As for Arizona, losing streaks have become the norm considering it’s had streaks of six, 13, and 17 already this season.

The Diamondbacks could be set to embark on another long losing streak if the season series against the Giants is any indication. Let’s dig into this matchup to see if Arizona can finally snap its winless run against San Francisco.

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Can Cueto Continue to Make the Diamondbacks Look Silly?

Johnny Cueto will start for the Giants in the series opener. The right-hander is off to a 6-3 start with a 3.63 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. His 3.80 FIP is slightly higher than his ERA, but it’s not enough to warrant a greater concern regarding potential regression. The 13-year veteran has battled some injuries in his career and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 after a bothersome right elbow strain.

He finally looks healthy again and has even benefited from an increase in velocity on his fastball (92.2 mph) this year compared to the last three years when it averaged 90.8 mph.

What’s refreshing about Cueto is that he’s a pitcher in every sense of the word. He’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, but he’s crafty enough to pitch in and out of the strike zone.

Cueto has thrown six different pitches this season, but he primarily uses his four-seamer (36.6%), slider (24.9%), changeup (23%), and sinker (11.8%). The other two pitches he’s thrown are a curveball and a cutter, but they only add up to a usage rate of 3.7%.

And then there’s, of course, the “Cueto shimmy,” which might as well be another pitch in its own right. The shimmy occurs when he shows the numbers on the back of his jersey directly to the hitter before delivering the pitch.

hang this Johnny Cueto shimmy in the Louvre

— Jake Eisenberg (@JakeEisenberg_) August 4, 2020

In this instance, he almost fell over but still got the groundball out. Cueto has been doing this since his days as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, and he’s continued to do so at all four of his stops in the major leagues.

There’s something about that guile he uses to gain every possible advantage while he’s on the mound.

Perhaps, if nothing else, it makes for a good laugh. That is, unless you’re the hitter in the batter’s box.

The reality is this Diamondbacks lineup hasn’t been doing much laughing when they’ve faced Cueto. In 85 at-bats, they have a .235/.267/.341 line against him with a below-average .106 ISO.

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Diamondbacks Bullpen Continues to Struggle 

Merrill Kelly will oppose Cueto on the mound for the Diamondbacks. Kelly is 4-7 with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. His 3.96 FIP does suggest some positive regression, but he might have to wait on that a bit considering his overall numbers against the San Francisco lineup.

In 63 at-bats, the Giants have .302/.362/.492 line against Kelly with an above-average .190 ISO. This will be his third meeting with the Giants this season, and in nine innings, he’s allowed six earned runs. In his last outing, he didn’t come out for the fourth inning after allowing four earned runs in addition to three walks.

If Kelly struggles with his command, it could make things even bleaker for him because the last thing he wants to do is to have to throw fastballs in hitter-friendly counts.

Kelly throws his four-seamer 34% of the time, but the Giants own a staggering 41.9 runs above average against the pitch, according to FanGraphs’ pitch value metrics.

The Giants are also more than happy to wait him out. They’re in the top five of the league with a 10.2% walk rate.

They’ll gladly take their hacks against a Diamondbacks bullpen that’s third from the bottom of the league with a 5.29 ERA. That’s precisely what transpired in their first meeting against Kelly after he departed with a 4-2 lead after the sixth inning, only to have the bullpen squander three runs in the eighth inning.

It’s not often Arizona finds itself in a save situation, so it’s rather futile to use blown saves to assess its bullpen. Instead, it makes much more sense to judge its pen by the number of holds it’s completed. It should be no surprise that the Diamondbacks are at the bottom of the league with just 25 holds this season.

To put it simply, Arizona isn’t doing enough to put itself in positions to win ballgames. The Diamondbacks have had 19 save opportunities this season, and only the Pirates have had fewer chances with 15.

Giants-Diamondbacks Pick

If you’ve ever played poker, then you should be familiar with the phrase, Getting your money in good.” That’s exactly what you’d be doing if you backed the Giants in this spot. There’s no point in catching a falling knife with Arizona and trying to decide when it might actually decide to win a game.

The Diamondbacks aren’t just a dog in this spot; they’re a dog with fleas.

And San Francisco is likely champing at the bit to get back on the field after an off day on Wednesday.

But if you’re still a bit unsure, here are some things to consider:

  • This season, the Giants are 5-1 for 4.1 units when they have a one-day rest advantage over their opponents.
  • Cueto’s teams are 11-2 for 9.5 units in his away starts against the Diamondbacks.

Lastly, the Giants are 16-10 for 9.6 units coming off three or more straight losses since 2019. They’ve also won their last four games in this spot.

BetMGM is offering San Francisco at -140, and that number is right in line with my model’s projection.

Pick: Giants ML (-140)

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