Red Sox Vs. Cubs: Predictions, Odds, Best Bets, Starting Lineups (7/15/23)

After an exciting few days of All Star festivities and then a less-exciting few days without any baseball at all, we are back to the regularly scheduled regular season programming. The Red Sox and Cubs both have a big half ahead of them, as they’re down but not quite out of the playoff race, so this series could be a huge tone-setter. Let’s take a look at the odds for this interleague matchup where my prediction is a Cubs win and under 8.5 runs at +100.

Red Sox Vs. Cubs Prediction

These two iconic ballclubs started the season off with very different expectations, as most viewed the Sox as a last place near-lock in the ultra competitive AL East, while the Cubs had a big offseason and looked primed to compete. This has been true to an extent; Boston is in fact in last place right now, but only because the East is certifiably insane. At 5 games over .500, they’re just a game behind the Yankees in fourth and two back of a Wild Card spot.

The Cubs have struggled though, they sit 5 games below .500 and 6.5 away from the playoffs. They have the worst record of any team with a positive run differential, and are almost 10 games behind the Marlins, who have a negative differential, so there’s a bit of bad luck in there, but at a certain point you have to win the games.

One positive for the Cubs has been a shockingly solid rotation, including Saturday’s starter, Cy Young Candidate Marcus Stroman. He’s been really sharp, and was just selected as an All Star for the second time in his career. He’ll be going up against James Paxton, who has had an incredibly resurgent season. Paxton hardly pitched in 2020 and 21, and when he did it was ugly; he then missed all of 2022. But now, he’s tossing a 2.73 ERA and striking out over 10 batters per 9 innings.

With a pitching duel like this one, you have to be all about the under. It doesn’t hurt that Chicago’s offense has struggled at times, and Boston’s has been strong but not quite as prolific as many had imagined it might be. The result is a bit of a tougher one, but I’m going with Chicago. Stroman was rolling up until a rough patch before the All Star break; I think the week off for his arm and mind could be huge for him, whereas it could break the massive momentum Paxton was building.

Red Sox Vs. Cubs Prediction: Cubs ML (-105), u8.5 (+100)

Red Sox Vs. Cubs Odds

This one is basically even, with the Cubs listed at -105 and the Sox at -115. For a run total of 8.5, the under is +100 and the over is -120.

Red Sox Vs. Cubs Key Matchups

Marcus Stroman Vs. On-Base Machines

Stroman’s statcast metrics are really interesting, by looking at his percentiles he doesn’t seem to excel in a lot of areas. But if you look down the page a bit, you can see that his sinker- easily his most-thrown pitch- has a ton of movement and spin, which creates a lot of weak contact. One area where he’s been a little weak is walk rate, as his walks per 9 is up to 3.3 compared to 2.3 a year ago.

With Stroman’s elevated walk numbers, compared to low barrel and home run rates, it seems like the guys who are going to hurt him are the ones who get on base, rather than ones that rely on big swings. Luckily for Boston, that’s exactly what they have; the team is 3rd in the league in hits per game, fourth in team OBP and bottom-10 in home runs.

Rob Refsnyder leads the way with an OBP up near .400, albeit in somewhat limited action. AL Rookie of the Year candidate Masataka Yoshida has improved as the season has gone along, and is currently hitting .316 and leading qualified Sox hitters in OPS. Jarren Duran, Justin Turner, and Alex Verdugo are also getting on a bunch with OBP numbers right around the .360s. Turner leads the team in hits, while the walks leader is actually Triston Casas, who few think of as one of the team’s best bats, perhaps because he does little else beyond walking a lot.

Paxton, a lefty, goes against a couple of trends we would expect to see. Firstly, he actually does better the longer the game goes on, it seems that he settles in much more than hitters figure him out the second time around. He’s put up an ERA of 3.60 in the first three innings, compared to 1.96 in the next three and no runs allowed in just a few innings thrown beyond the sixth. He’s also pitching a significant reverse-split, as lefties are hitting over .300 against him and putting up an OPS over 200 points better than what righties are doing.

With Paxton’s bizarre split, it’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle lefties Mike Tauchman and Cody Bellinger. The former has been at the top of the lineup pretty routinely, while the latter has had an excellent, resurgent campaign thus far. The Cubs haven’t shied away from platooning these guys right out of the lineup against lefties, but Bellinger is way too hot to sit, and even Tauchman might get a chance too if they look at Paxton’s numbers.

“Big Maple” has had a really strong season so far, but I believe that the Cubs lineup has a good chance to tack on enough runs to support their own excellent starter, which is a big reason I have them hitting their -105 moneyline in my Red Sox vs. Cubs prediction.

Red Sox Vs. Cubs Starting Lineups

Red Sox Starting Lineup
LF R. Refsnyder R
RF A. Verdugo L
1B J. Turner R
3B R. Devers L
DH M. Yoshida L
SS E. Hernandez R
CF J. Duran L
C C. Wong R
2B C. Arroyo R

Cubs Starting Lineup
2B N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
LF I. Happ S
CF C. Morel R
1B C. Bellinger L
SS D. Swanson R
C Y. Gomes R
DH M. Amaya R
3B N. Madrigal R

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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