Phillies vs Cubs Pick Today | MLB Odds, Predictions for Wednesday, June 28
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Nola (Phillies)
- After Philadelphia took the first game of the series, the Phillies and Cubs are back in action on Wednesday.
- Aaron Nola takes the hill for Philly while the veteran Drew Smyly counters for Chicago.
- Anthony Dabbundo breaks it all down with a preview and two betting picks.
Phillies vs. Cubs Odds
-115 / -105
Lefty Ranger Suarez threw 7.1 dominant innings and featured excellent command around the corners. Looking forward, right-hander Aaron Nola will look to replicate that performance on Wednesday against Cubs starter Drew Smyly.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Phillies' righty, who started the year with decreased velocity on his fastball and fewer strikeouts while adjusting to the pitch clock.
Nola has looked more like the Nola of old in the last month though, and the return of his fastball velocity makes him closer to the pitcher who finished in the top five of the NL Cy Young voting in 2022.
Smyly doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he's a veteran with an elite curveball. He's consistently lowered his expected pitching metrics year by year to the point where he's now priced and projected as a league average starter — maybe even better.
Nola was one of the slower workers in all of baseball in 2022, and he openly commented about his struggles adjusting to the pitch clock early this season.
He managed just 33 strikeouts in his first 42.2 innings this year, with a 4.64 ERA and 3.94 FIP. His average fastball velocity in four of his first six starts was below 92 mph. He's never been a dominant stuff guy, but the difference between 91.5 and 93.5 is massive for his ERA projection.
Since his start against the Dodgers in early May, his metrics have all trended back to normal.
In six of eight starts, his fastball velocity has been above 93 mph. His ERA has dropped to 4.19, but the strikeouts have also returned. Nola has 65 Ks in 58 innings.
The Cubs' lineup is one of the more patient in all of baseball. They rank in the top eight in highest called strike percentage and in the bottom seven in highest swing rate.
If Nola has his good command and is dominant with first pitch strikes, it'll enable him to use his good secondaries to generate whiffs and put aways. This is a better Ks matchup than a free swinging lineup because of how often Nola is in the zone.
Smyly's pitches don't really grade out as elite based on the Stuff+ models, but his good command and heavy curveball usage makes it hard to square up.
His sinker and cutter grade out as below average offerings, but Smyly makes up for that by throwing his curveball as his primary pitch.
Like an Adam Wainwright or Rich Hill — who rely on that one elite pitch and throw it a ton — Smyly has made it work. He's increased his curveball usage to 49% in 2023 and has cut down on the cutter.
Opponents are hitting .183 with a .293 SLG against the curveball, and it's generated a 33% whiff rate, per Baseball Savant. Stuff+ likes it as a pitch, and it could keep an aggressive Phillies lineup chasing all night long if it's effective.
The biggest difference between Smyly before and after joining the Cubs has been his curveball usage, movement and success. The pitch has produced a -11 run value in two seasons with the Cubs.
Like Justin Steele and Marcus Stroman, the Cubs' pitching development has done an excellent job of producing and improving solid arms who don't have overwhelming stuff.
Phillies vs. Cubs Betting Pick
The handedness of the starters puts both offenses in their worse offensive split this season.
The Phillies may platoon Brandon Marsh out of the lineup, which would put righty Cristian Pache in. That would improve the Phillies' defensive projection and hurt their offense overall.
The same is true at third base, where the plus defender Edmundo Sosa should play over Alec Bohm. It's the Phillies' best defensive lineup behind Nola.
The Cubs' lineup is 18th in wRC+ against righties this year (10th vs. LHP) and is below league average at 96 wRC+.
The Phillies are just 25th against lefties because of the lack of right-handed bench options and the loss of the power-hitting Rhys Hoskins. The main lefty options — Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber — are fine vs. southpaws, but the depth pieces don't fare nearly as well.
You can't discuss a game at Wrigley Field without a look at the weather, which has wind forecasted to blow straight across the field from right to left. It won't have much impact overall, but it could hurt lefty power if anything.
I'd bet the under 8.5 runs at anything -120 or better, and I also think Nola's over 6.5 Ks at anything +110 or better is worth a bet.
I like the matchup for both starters here, and both teams' top arms are well rested out of the bullpen.