Reds vs. Cubs MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Cincinnati Offense Has Upper Hand (Thursday, June 30)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Albert Almora Jr. and Joey Votto.
- The Cubs are short home favorites in tonight's matchup with the Reds.
- Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for Chicago, while rookie Graham Ashcraft will toe the rubber for Cincinnati.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Reds vs. Cubs Odds
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What a roller coaster this Reds season has been. They started the year historically bad, going just 3-18 in April. Then they put it together in May, finishing with a winning record at 14-13. Well, now they stink again, sitting 9-17 during June.
Chicago has been equally bad this month, also 9-17 during June. The Cubs are just 2.5 games ahead of the Reds in the battle for last place in the NL Central.
Cincinnati took game one of the three-game set on Tuesday, but the Cubs got to fly the W Wednesday night. So who has the advantage in the rubber-match on Thursday?
Which Reds Team Will We See?
Rookie Graham Ashcraft will be making just his eighth career start after making his MLB debut on May 22. He has been pretty solid so far, sitting with a 4-1 record and 3.27 ERA.
Ashcraft had one blowup outing, but otherwise has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his first seven starts. His 3.22 xERA is right in line with his actual numbers and while his strikeout upside is severely limited, he uses a terrific cutter to really limit hard contact.
Just like their record, the Reds' offense has been up in down. They finished April dead-last in wRC+. During May, they rose up to 17th. In June they are actually 13th in the league and fifth in wOBA. It has more been their pitching letting them down this month.
Reigning Rookie of the Year Jonathan India returned to the lineup a few weeks ago and is a huge addition to this offense.
Does Hendricks Have Anything Left in the Tank?
The phrase “even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while” is a great way to describe Kyle Hendricks this year. On one hand, he has been very bad. He has a 4.90 ERA and 5.21 xERA this season. He sits in the bottom 15% in xBA, xERA and xwOBA allowed.
But on three separate occasions this season, Hendricks has tossed seven-inning shutouts. In his last outing against St. Louis he pitched into the eighth, allowing just five hits and no runs. So he does still have a little juice of the old Hendricks, but how often can he tap into that at age 32?
Chicago’s offense hasn’t really been their problem either. On the season, the Cubs sit 14th in wOBA and 16th in wRC+ but over the last 30 days they rank top 10 in both categories.
Willson Contreras and Ian Happ have both been mashing, which is really helping to raise their trade value for when the Cubs inevitably deal them next month.
In a game between two bad teams, you’re unfortunately going to have to back a team that stinks. And as bad as the Reds are, I can’t help but like them in this matchup.
Ashcraft is Cincinnati’s No. 7 ranked overall prospect according to MLB.com. He has excellent command, and ranks in the top five percent of the entire league allowing an average exit velocity of just 85.2 mph.
For a young pitcher, he has shown the ability to pitch deep into games, already throwing into the seventh inning in three of his first seven starts. He is coming off a career best eight-inning, eight-strikeout performance in San Francisco and appears to be building confidence.
Hendricks is way over the hill and ranks in the bottom 15% of the league in xERA, xBA and xwOBA. He doesn’t strike anybody out and is giving up a ton of barrels. Unless he pulls another random gem out, Ashcraft should have the advantage here.
The Reds' bullpen is atrocious and you’re a crazy person if you want your money resting in their hands. Instead, I’ll back Cincinnati in the first five innings at +105 and would play it to -110.
Pick: Cincinnati Reds First Five +105