Reds vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will the Cubs Offense Stay Hot at Home? (July 26)

Reds vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: Will the Cubs Offense Stay Hot at Home? (July 26) article feature image

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Wade Miley

Reds vs. Cubs Odds

Reds Odds+112
Cubs Odds-132
Over/Under8.5 (-115/-105)
Time8:05 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday morning and via FanDuel.

Do the Reds still consider themselves contenders?

Because the Cubs don’t, and it seems the Reds might have to follow suit. After getting swept by the Brewers recently, the once “intriguing” Reds sit 6.5 games back of Milwaukee for the division lead (and any shot of a playoff berth).

So, as the trade deadline approaches, the next questions are: A) Who do the Cubs sell next, B) what is the Reds’ next move, and C) where does the value lie in this series opener?

Let’s dive in.

Wade Miley is Heating Up, but Will the Reds Help Him Out?

Wade Miley has been on a tear recently.

On May 14, Miley allowed eight runs on 11 hits over three innings in Denver. Since then, he’s posted a 2.12 ERA with a 4-1 record, plus the Reds are 8-2 in those 10 starts.

Miley throws a cutter-changeup mix that has excelled at producing weak contact. Miley’s 85.3 mph average exit velocity ranks in the top four percent of qualified pitchers and is more than two mph slower than his career average.

Additionally, Miley is striking out (19.8%, career high) and walking fewer (6.6%, career low) batters than he ever has. His 1.18 WHIP doesn’t do it justice, but Miley is more locked in than ever before.

It’s too bad the Reds lineup can’t get it together for him right now. Over the past 30 days, the Reds have posted just a .703 OPS and a 92 wRC+ — both stats that rank among the bottom eight MLB teams in that span.

Additionally, Miley’s support staff hasn’t been great either. The Reds bullpen has posted just a 5.39 FIP and a 1.35 WHP over the past week – both stats that rank in the back half of the league in that span.

Can the Offense Carry the Cubs at Home?

While it’s been a disastrous season, the Cubs have been quite good at Wrigley in 2021.

The Cubs are 30-18 with a +33 run differential at home this season, although it’s really the offense that has done all the work at Wrigley. The offense has posted a 104 wRC+ at home but just a 78 wRC+ on the road, while the pitching staff’s home/away splits are negligible.

To be fair, the offense has had to pick up for a lousy rotation all season. Other than Kyle Hendricks, no one has an ERA+ higher than 94. As such, the Cubs starters have the fifth highest FIP (4.83) in MLB.

The back half of the bullpen has been effective as Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel have combined for a good number of productive innings. However, the team numbers don’t reflect these individual’s success, as the Cubs rank dead last in reliever FIP (5.95) over the past 30 days.

Kimbrel will almost definitely be traded. He’s posted a dominant 0.50 ERA and a .673 WHIP with 23 saves in 34 appearances this season, and his fastball is looking as live as ever. He’s averaging 97 mph on the four seam this season, and it seems the crackdown on foreign substances hasn’t affected the spin rate:

Reds-Cubs Pick

Historically, the Reds have knocked around Hendricks pretty well.

Tucker Barnhart, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker all have BA’s approaching .300 lifetime against Hendricks, and Hendricks has allowed a .328 xwOBA against the entire lineup lifetime. Votto has been particularly good against Hendricks, and it’s probably worth playing his over total bases prop.

Meanwhile, Miley has been relatively good against the Cubs lineup. Wilson Contreras and Kris Bryant have done quite well against him, but Miley’s posted a .349 xSLG and a .289 xwOBA against the combined lineup lifetime.

Given Miley has been on a tear and Hendricks seems particularly vulnerable, backing the Reds as short underdogs in this spot seems like the play.

However, both these bullpens have been worked over the past week, with the Cubs’ relievers having pitched 23 1/3 innings and the Reds’ 26 1/3. Moreover, both bullpens finished among the bottom five MLB teams in reliever FIP during that stretch (Cubs 5.90, Reds 5.39).

Therefore, I’m looking to back Miley and the Reds in the first five innings. At FanDuel, you can grab the Reds F5 ML at +106, which I would play down to +100, and the Reds F5 +0.5 at -122, which I would play down to -125.

Pick: Reds F5 ML +106 (Play to +100) | Reds F5 +0.5 -122 (Play to -125)

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