Royals vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: Chicago’s Post-Deadline Struggles Continue (Friday, August 20)

Royals vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: Chicago’s Post-Deadline Struggles Continue (Friday, August 20) article feature image
Credit:

Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Keller.

  • Brad Keller and Zach Davies are floundering -- both have ERAs over 5.00 with an xERA that is even worse.
  • The Cubs' top three hits and RBI leaders are still Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who have not been on the team since July.
  • Prepare for things to get weird Friday afternoon at Wrigley.

Royals vs. Cubs Odds

Royals Odds -115
Cubs Odds -105
Over/Under OTB
Time 2:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings.

The Chicago Cubs entered full rebuild mode at the trade deadline, selling off their entire core. They have gone just 4-15 since the deadline. Chicago was able to end its 12-game losing streak to take the final two games against Cincinnati.

Both of these teams with sit well under .500 with the Cubs at 15 games below .500 and the Royals at 16 games below. Kansas City did manage to just take three out of four games against the Astros, but remains in last place in the AL Central.

Both of these teams stink and are not typically appointment viewing. But, as the only game on Friday afternoon, we all want to get our weekend started with a little change in our pocket. So where is the best value for some day baseball action?

Keller Concerns

The Royals named Brad Keller (RHP) their opening-day starter after a terrific 2020 campaign where he posted a 5-3 record and a 2.47 ERA. He entered 2021 with big expectations and has taken a huge step back. Keller has just a 7-12 record with a 5.62 ERA this season and teams are hitting .301 against him.

Obviously a 5.62 ERA is very concerning. Even more concerning is that his xERA is somehow even higher at 6.48, the sixth-worst mark in the league. He has allowed the sixth-highest xwOBA at .378 and has been rocked for a 45.3 HardHit%.

Now the good news is that Keller has looked a little better as of late. Over the last seven starts, he has posted a 3.61 ERA and has allowed two runs or less in four of those outings. He has been able to eat innings, pitching into the seventh frame in five of his last seven starts.

Kansas City’s offense ranks just 25th in runs per game this season and sit 26th in wOBA and wRC+. The Royals do a good job making contact with one of the lowest strikeout rates in the league, but only Pittsburgh and Arizona have hit fewer home runs than the Royals.

Salvador Perez is the only player on the team with an OPS over .800 and not a single player is batting over .280. Whit Merrifield is having a down year but is still the most exciting player in this lineup, earning his second All-Star selection this season.

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Post-Deadline Struggles

The Cubs shopped around Zach Davies (RHP) at the deadline but were unable to find a suitor for him. He had some solid outings in May and June but, like Keller, has had expected stats even more concerning than his actual stats. Davies has a 5.00 ERA this season and a 5.97 xERA. His xERA and .366 xwOBA both rank in the bottom 10% of the league.

As more and more pitchers have the ability to throw a fastball nearing triple digits, Davies’ fastest pitch is a sinker that averages just 88 miles per hour. He throws it more than 52% of the time and opponents have a .409 xwOBA against him with a 56.1 HardHit% against his sinker.

Over his last seven outings, Davies has posted an ERA of 6.96 and he has allowed seven runs in two of his last three starts.

The trade deadline was three weeks ago, and the Cubs’ top three hits and RBI leaders are still Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, who have not been on the team since July.

After trading Rizzo, the Cubs called up first baseman Frank Schwindel who they claimed off waivers from Oakland. Since the trade deadline, Schwindel has led Chicago in hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. He is batting .397 with a 1.177 OPS this month.

Royals-Cubs Pick

This is a hard game to handicap and one you absolutely should not watch unless you are betting on it. These are two of the worst starting pitchers in the league, both with ERAs over 5.00 with an xERA that is even worse.

On the other hand, both of these offenses rank in the bottom 10 of the league in wOBA and wRC+ over the full season — and in the last month.

As bad as both of these pitchers have been, they are heading in opposite directions. Keller has posted a 3.61 ERA over his last seven starts, while Davies has a 6.96 ERA over his last seven. The Cubs bullpen has a 7.39 ERA in August, the second-worst in the league and Davies is averaging just 4.8 innings per start this year.

Things are probably going to get weird on this Friday afternoon, but I’ll back the Royals to come away with the win in Wrigley at -120 or better.

Pick: Kansas City Royals ML -115

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