Friday MLB Odds, Betting Picks & Predictions: Minnesota Twins vs. Chicago Cubs (Sept. 18)
Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images. Pictured: Rich Hill (44) of the Minnesota Twins.
- The Chicago Cubs are red-hot at the moment, winners of four straight and coming off two consecutive dramatic walk-off wins.
- They draw a matchup with the Minnesota Twins on Friday night with both teams vying for Central Division crowns in their respective leagues.
- Michael Arinze breaks down tonight's odds, analyzes the matchup, and offers his pick for Twins vs. Cubs.
Twins vs. Cubs Odds
|Twins Odds||+112 [Bet Now]|
|Cubs Odds||-130 [Bet Now]|
|Over/Under||7 (-110/-110) [Bet Now]|
|First Pitch||8:15 p.m. ET|
Lately, it seems that nothing can go wrong for the Chicago Cubs. The North Side ball club is on a four-game winning streak, and they’ve even won their last two games in walk-off fashion. The Cubs have a 5.5-game lead in the NL Central, and there’s no doubt that this team will be in the 2020 postseason. Now, it’s all about keeping that momentum going. They’ll look to do that with Kyle Hendricks on the mound tonight.
Hendricks will be opposed by Rich Hill, who will start the series for the Minnesota Twins as they continue their pursuit of the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central division crown.
Hill’s overall numbers are decent, but at times he’s struggled to pitch deep into games due to poor command. That weakness could pose a challenge against a Cubs team that’s ranked seventh in MLB with a 10.5% walk rate.
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Hendricks Trending Up
Kyle Hendricks is on one of his rolls. He’s gotten the decision in two of his last three starts with Chicago winning each game. Overall, he’s 5-4 with a 3.29 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. His 3.55 FIP suggests only a slight regression on the horizon, but this is a pitcher whose walk and home run ratio are 0.82 and 1.10 respectively.
I’ve always liked that Hendricks is able to keep hitters off-balance, because he doesn’t throw particular hard. He only tops out around 87 mph with his fastball but he still maintains good separation with his changeup at around an 8-mph difference.
Per FanGraphs, Hendricks’ pitch value has been trending up over his last few starts, particularly with his fastball. For the first time this season, he’s had back-to-back outings where he’s been above-average in runs saved when throwing his fastball. That could be the missing piece for him, because he’s been able to maintain his success on off-speed pitches (curve ball and changeup) throughout this season.
His secondary pitches should play well against a Twins team that is only 0.7 runs above average against the changeup and one run below average against the curveball.
This will also be the first-time facing Hendricks for many of the Twins hitters, so that certainly is an advantage that lies with the Chicago pitcher. Only six hitters in the Twins lineup have been in the box against Hendricks for a total of just 20 at-bats. They produced a .200 batting average with a .300 SLG and no home runs or RBIs to show for their efforts.
Hill in Line for Some Regression
Rich Hill is 2-1 on the season with a 3.81 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. While on the surface those numbers would appear satisfactory, his advanced stats tell a different story.
Hill’s 4.50 FIP suggests the left-hander could be in line for some regression. He certainly hasn’t done himself any favors by issuing 4.15 walks per nine innings. But if I’m being fair, he’s done a good job limiting the damage as he’s stranded 78.6% of the runners that reach base. However, the increased traffic on the base paths continues to put him in high-leverage situations where he’s forced to throw more pitches and face additional batters in an inning.
I’m not sure if it’s by design, but Hill has yet to pitch more than five innings this season. Hill is 1-1 in his last two starts, but he’s been below-average in runs saved when throwing his fastball (-1.6 and -1.9 respectively). That could actually benefit the Cubs, who have been a below-average team against the fastball for much of this season.
Per Baseball Savant, Hill likes to throw his curveball 44.8% of the time, which is right behind his fastball usage at 45%. If he follows a similar plan tonight, he’ll be doing the Cubs a favor considering they’re 3.4 runs above average this season against Uncle Charlie.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I recognize all the numbers with the Cubs struggling to hit for average this year, but yet they’re still 30-20 on the season. For me, this matchup really comes down to the starting pitchers who will be on the mound.
In most cases, I might be looking to fade the Cubs, but not with Kyle Hendricks on the mound. He’s pitched 21.2 innings in his last two starts and only allowed four runs.
This play is a fade of Rich Hill, who I feel is due to have a real clunker any moment. The Twins have yet to post a win in back-to-back Hill starts, and he’s coming off a victory in his last outing.
My model projects the Cubs as a -146 favorite, so I’ve got a bit of value right now based on where the current number is for this game.
PointsBet is offering Chicago at -125, and that’s good enough for me. I’ll lay a half-unit of my bankroll to back the Cubs to keep their win streak alive.
The Bet: Cubs moneyline (-125) Play up to -146. Risking 0.5 units.