MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Cubs: How to Factor Tired Bullpens in Chicago (Thursday, July 8)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Cubs: How to Factor Tired Bullpens in Chicago (Thursday, July 8) article feature image
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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay.

  • The Chicago Cubs take on the Philadelphia Phillies in Thursday's NL showdown.
  • The struggling Cubs snapped their 11-game losing streak with their win over the Phillies in Wednesday's meeting.
  • Mike Ianniello takes a look at this contest below and details why he's expecting plenty of runs.

Phillies vs. Cubs Odds

Phillies Odds -106
Cubs Odds -112
Over/Under 7.5
Time 8:05 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday morning via DraftKings.

The slumping Chicago Cubs finally snapped an 11-game losing streak with an 8-3 victory on Wednesday. Chicago jumped out to an early 5-0 after two innings and held on for its first win of July.

After leading the NL Central just two weeks ago, Chicago has slid into third place and 8.5 games out of first place in its recent skid.

Philadelphia also is third in its division, sitting 4.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The Phillies, who are 6-4 in their last 10 games, will look to bounce back Thursday and win the series against Chicago.

I guess there are still some Fourth of July fireworks left over in Chicago, because this has been a high-scoring series so far with 52 runs scored over the first three games of the series. Should we expect more of the same on in this matchup?

Philadelphia Starter Eflin Putting in Solid Work

While Zach Eflin is never going to blow anybody away, you almost always know what you’re going to get from him. He has a 4.13 ERA, and while he is never going to totally shutdown a lineup, he’s a great innings eater. That’s big for a bullpen as bad as Philadelphia’s relievers have been.

In his 16 starts this year, Eflin has lasted at least six innings in 13 of them and has pitched into the fifth inning in every start. His best pitch is his sinker, which he throws 42.7% of the time.

Don’t expect many free passes against Eflin, as his control is his biggest strength. Eflin has allowed just 13 walks in 96 innings this season, and his 3.3% walk rate is the lowest in the league. He throws a first pitch strike to 65.2% of all batters he faces.

I think it’s fair to say the Phillies offense has underperformed expectations given the names in their lineup. They have been just average at the plate, ranking 14th in runs per game, 15th in average and 16th in OPS this season.

However, when you look at the talent in this lineup with guys like JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen and more, when this offense is clicking, they can score with anybody.

That has been evident over the last week, especially this series. The Phillies have scored the second most runs and have the best team wOBA over the last week. Harper and Hoskins especially are red hot, with Harper batting .333 with a 1.037 OPS and Hoskins hitting a blistering .381 with a 1.462 OPS and three home runs in the last week.

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Cubs Hoping Hurler Alzolay Turns Things Around

Entering the season with just six career big-league starts, Adbert Alzolay has struggled for the Cubs. In 14 starts this year, the 26-year-old has a 4-8 record and a 4.48 ERA.

Alzolay has now taken a loss in four consecutive games and allowed at least three earned runs in every outing. Overall, he ranks in the bottom 30% of the league with a .336 xwOBA against and a 43% HardHit percentage.

The bright spot for Alzolay is he does have a fantastic slider. He throws it 45% of the time and has allowed just a .164 batting average against, while generating a 33.1% strikeout rate. However, his fastball and sinker have struggled.

The Cubs’ offense has also underperformed this year. They rank just 19th in runs per game, 18th in OPS and 27th in batting average. Chicago doesn’t have a single starter batting above .275.

Over the last two weeks, the Cubs are tied for the fewest runs in the league and sit 25th in batting average and 27th in OPS. They have managed to score 18 runs over the last two games, so maybe they’re starting to break out of their recent slump.

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Phillies-Cubs Pick

Both of these teams are very similar in my opinion. They have lineups full of big names and a ton of talent, but those standouts are having down years and resulted in mediocre offenses.

However, as we have seen so far in this series, when those big names get going, these lineups can score a lot in a hurry. The first three games of the matchup has seen 52 total runs for an average of 17.33 runs per game.

We now get two below average pitchers in Eflin and Alzolay who each have an ERA over 4.00 and a HardHit% more than 39 percent.

Recently, these have been the two worst bullpens in the league. Over the last two weeks, Chicago’s relievers rank 29th in the league with a bullpen 7.46 ERA. Philadelphia’s bullpen ranks dead last with an 8.72 ERA. The two pens are a combined 3-10 over that stretch.

The wind is blowing in for this game, which has resulted in a total of 7.5 runs. That said, I’m still going to side with the offenses. The Cubs’ stars of Bryant and Baez, along with the Phillies’ standouts in Harper and Hoskins are red hot right now and I don’t think these pitchers will be the ones to cool them off.

With two struggling bullpens that have been used a lot during this high-scoring series, the over will still have a chance until the final out.

Pick: Over 7.5 Runs (-110)

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