After both teams wrapped up critical weekend series with mixed results, the San Francisco Giants are coming to Chicago to play the Cubs. With both teams fighting for positioning in a fascinating NL Wild Card race, this series will be absolutely pivotal, so let’s dig into the odds for game one, where my prediction is a Cubs win and under 9 runs.
Giants Vs. Cubs Prediction
After taking game one in convincing fashion but suffering through absolute heartbreaking walk-off losses in the next two games, the Cubs came back strong and hung 15 runs on the Reds to salvage a split in their four-game weekend series.
The Cubs didn’t quite bury Cincy as much as they could have; they were just a few pitches away from a road sweep, which would have all but eliminated their division rivals from the Wild Card race. But, as things stand, they did enough to hold steady where they are, which is safe by three games after an incredible in-season turnaround.
The Reds are actually one of four teams who are tied for that sixth NL playoff spot, three games behind the Cubs. One of the other three squads is none other than the Giants, who have the chance to make up that entire gap over the next few days if they can pull off a sweep.
They probably thought they’d come into this series in slightly better shape; after winning a series of their own with the Reds, they won the first of four against the Padres, but dropped the remaining three. With so many teams in contention for that final spot, there’s not much margin for error the rest of the way for San Francisco.
In terms of opposing pitchers, the Giants seriously cannot catch a break. Just a couple of games ago, they faced MLB ERA leader Blake Snell, and on Monday, they’ll have to deal with Justin Steele, who is second on that list. Steele is exhibiting a legitimate star leap this year, as he has the best ballpark-adjusted ERA+ in the majors, and has allowed fewer home runs per 9 innings than any other NL starter.
But this is a true battle of aces; Steele will be squaring off with Logan Webb, who is 18th on that ERA list, and well ahead of Steele in 10th on the WHIP leaderboard.It’s hard to understand why a total like 9 is available in this game; with two of the NL’s best arms on the mound, and several solid Giants bats possibly out of the lineup for the lefty Steele, the under is an incredible bet.
The moneyline pick is less straightforward. In a game where not many runs are scored, any swing of the bat can flip the result into something fluky. We’ll side with the home team, stronger offense, and hotter arm. All of those factors point to Chicago, my moneyline pick in this contest at -134 odds. You can grab some extra value by picking them on a -1.5 run spread, but this one could so easily be decided by a single run that I don’t believe that it’s worth it.
Giants Vs. Cubs Prediction: Cubs ML (-134), u9 runs (-115)
Giants Vs. Cubs Odds
The Cubs are home favourites at -134 odds compared to +116 for the Giants, while the total is set at 9 runs, with the over set to -105 odds and the under -115.
Giants Vs. Cubs Key Matchups
Logan Webb vs. Cubs Righties
Webb, who walks batters at the lowest rate of any NL starter, doesn’t have any particularly glaring holes in his game, but there is one weird trend going on. That would be a reverse split– although he’s a righty, he has a tougher time throwing to right-handed batters. Interestingly enough, Webb catches a significant break due to Cody Bellinger also has a reverse split; the Cubs’ best hitter, who happens to be a lefty, has an OPS about 100 points higher against fellow southpaws.
The Cubs lineup is fairly left-handed, although switch hitter Ian Happ could provide a challenge for Webb; he’ll hit lefty, and is so much better from that side that analytics suggest that he should just be a full-time lefty, so it’ll be interesting to see how the competing trends play out in real time. Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson are the main righties in the lineup, as both have been solid all-around bats with Swanson providing some pop, with the powerful Christopher Morel could also be a threat.
Justin Steele vs. Contact Hitters
Steele, who limits walks pretty well, still owns a less than stellar WHIP, due in part to a slightly elevated hits per 9 innings rate. He’ll be susceptible to guys who can pick their spots and make good contact, although with the Giants sitting in 25th in the majors in batting average, he should be ok.
The Giants might also be missing some of their best bats this game; if they choose to platoon out some or all of their lefties against the southpaw Steele, Lamonte Wade, Joc Pederson, and Mike Yastrzemski could all sit this one out. Wade has been one of the team’s best overall bats and is hitting .250, while Pederson is sitting at .239 and Yastrzemski is in a similar area. None of these guys are exactly contact maestros, but their production is not something the Giants can afford to miss.
In terms of Giants who actually will be in the lineup, Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada are hitting .288 and .276 respectively, very strong numbers, although both have missed just a bit of time. Even so, there aren’t really many flaws to Steele’s record, as he’s been truly fantastic. His high level of play is a major reason I have both the Cubs moneyline at -134 odds and under 9 runs in my Giants vs. Cubs prediction.
Giants Vs. Cubs Starting Lineups
Giants Starting Lineup
CF A. Slater R
2B T. Estrada R
DH W. Flores R
LF M. Haniger R
C P. Bailey S
1B J. Davis R
SS P. DeJong R
RF L. Matos R
3B C. Schmitt R
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF M. Tauchman L
2B N. Hoerner R
LF I. Happ S
1B C. Bellinger L
SS D. Swanson R
DH C. Morel R
3B J. Candelario S
C Y. Gomes R
RF S. Suzuki