It’s another rematch of the legendary 2016 World Series, as the Cleveland Guardians come up to Wrigley Field to visit the Chicago Cubs. Things are different than they were 7 years ago when these teams clashed in October, but there’s no love lost and it should be a fun one. Let’s take a look at the odds for this interleague rivalry, where my prediction is for a Cubs -170 ML hit and under 8.5 runs.
Guardians Vs. Cubs Prediction
After a nighttime finish to their series against the Phillies, the Cubs are going to have to get right back to business for an early game against the Guardians. Cleveland has to hit the road for this one, but their Wednesday game will be done before dinnertime. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs are in the midst of the first series since their trip to London, so there may be a re-adjustment factor there too.
That could help to explain the tough series they had against the Phillies- the London trip came in the midst of a 9-1 run for Chicago, and seems to have snapped that momentum. The Guardians are also in great shape, with 8 wins in their past 11 games. They’re a pair of games below .500, which puts them tied for first place in an abysmal AL Central division.
The Cubs have also been mediocre overall, sitting below .500 but not dead at all in their own Central division race as they sit just 5 games behind the first-place Reds, of all teams. If anyone can get them back on track it’s Justin Steele, Friday’s starter. He’s having a stellar third season in the bigs, after showing notable improvement from year 1 to 2 as well.
He’ll be going up against Cal Quantrill, who himself has broken out in the past few seasons but has struggled a good bit this year amidst some injury woes. He gave up 8 runs in over 4 innings in his last start on May 30, but given that he went onto the IL immediately afterwards, it’s fair to wonder if it’s fair to evaluate that performance as a full-strength one.
Quantrill is still a very talented pitcher, and could very well bounce back after some much-needed rest and rehab. With an in-form Steele on the other side and no elite lineup on either side, it’s looking like the perfect situation to bet the under. As far as the result, I’m going to trust the Cubs at home to get back on track with one of their top starters on the bump.
Guardians Vs. Cubs Prediction: Cubs ML (-170), u8.5 (-110)
Guardians Vs. Cubs Odds
The Cubs are home favorites at -170, while the Guardians are +145. For a run total of 8.5, the over and under are both -110.
Guardians Vs. Cubs Key Matchups
Cal Quantrill Vs. Cubs Lefties
Amidst what has been a tough year by all measures, the righty Quantrill has struggled pretty significantly against left-handed bats. The good news for him is that the Cubs are pretty right-handed, but they do have some lefty bats they can pull into the lineup.
One asterisk is switch-hitter Ian Happ who has been by far at his best as a lefty hitting against righties, and should be a real challenge for Quantrill. Cody Bellinger has also had a nice series against the Phillies, and will likely platoon his way into the lineup against Cleveland. Lastly, there’s Mike Tauchman, who could provide a good spark at the top of the lineup.
Of course, righties are still in play, like team batting average leader Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel, the team’s best power bat thus far. Overall, Quantrill has shown good stuff in the past, but his Statcast metrics this year are almost all below-average in terms of velocity, spin, whiff rate- you name it. Simply put, things are going poorly, and I don’t think he’ll shut down a solid Cubs lineup.
Justin Steele Vs. Contact Hitters
As a lefty who has no real platoon split, and has been outstanding overall, it’s hard to find a hole in Steele’s game by looking at traditional numbers, so let’s dig into his Statcast figures. As it turns out, his whiff rate and fastball velocity are pretty low relative to league average, while his overall strikeout rate is a bit worse than the mean, so he could be susceptible to contact bats, especially considering his remarkable 0.3 HR/9 average.
Bo Naylor- yes, the brother of Josh- has gotten his first taste of The Show, as starting catcher Mike Zunino has dealt with an injury. He’s already gone viral with a gem behind the dish and recently crushed his first homer, so it’s going to be interesting and fun to see where things go from here.
Bo’s big brother has also continued his steady year-over-year improvement, as he’s hitting nearly .300 with an OPS over .800. Perennial superstar José Ramírez has finally gotten hot and has played far closer to his legendary standard; he’s put up an OPS of almost 1.200 over the past couple of weeks, getting his season total close to .900. Ramírez also leads the team with a batting average around .300, so he is unshockingly the biggest contact threat Steele will have to deal with.
Overall, there’s a few more Guardians bats who can put the ball in play- Steven Kwan comes to mind- but my faith in Steele to navigate what is overall a mediocre lineup is a major reason I have both the under and the Cubs moneyline in my Guardians vs. Cubs prediction.
Guardians Vs. Cubs Starting Lineups
Guardians Starting Lineup
SS T. Freeman R
SS A. Rosario R
3B J. Ramirez S
1B J. Naylor L
DH J. Bell S
2B A. Gimenez L
RF W. Brennan L
CF M. Straw R
C B. Naylor L
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF M. Tauchman L
2B N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
DH C. Morel R
LF I. Happ S
SS D. Swanson R
1B C. Bellinger L
C Y. Gomes R
3B N. Madrigal R