Featured Video from Scott Reichel
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago Illinois
When: Saturday, May 25, 2019 2:20pm Eastern
We have a National League Central Division game to consider for Saturday afternoon when the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs meet under sunny skies and temps in the mid-seventies for game two of their three-game series. This preview was written prior to the conclusion of game one and all opinions are based on the conclusion of Thursday night’s MLB action.
Cincinnati is last in the NL Central and plans on right-hander Tyler Mahle to handle the starting pitching chores for the Reds on Saturday. Chicago is first in the NL East and intends on Yu Darvish to hopefully keep the Reds from lighting up the scoreboard on Saturday afternoon. I’m the Flash and will be discussing this game with you today.
Reds Worst Road Offense in MLB This Season
As their 10-16 record bears testimony, the Cincinnati Reds haven’t traveled well this season away from Great American Ballpark. The Reds have the worst away offense in baseball and its .266 OBP on the road is last in MLB this season. Fortunately for Cincinnati, their pitching is at least keeping them in games and ranks second in baseball away from Cincinnati this season with a 3.45 ERA and a 26 percent strikeout rate this season. This is a major reason why the Reds is one of nine teams in the National League that has outscored its opponents.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) May 22, 2019
Cincinnati has injuries with the most notable listed being outfielder Yasiel Puig who is listed as day to day with a shoulder injury. Puig has missed the last two games and has a .253 OBP with seven bombs and 25 RBI over 165 at-bats this season.
Mahle (1-5, 3.51 ERA) doesn’t look that impressive at first glance but has pitched five innings or more in each of his nine starts this season. In three of those games, the Reds failed to score a run. Mahle has a 3.51 ERA but his 3.21 xFIP suggests Mahle has been a bit unlucky this season. Mahle strikes out 9.47, walks 1.93 and has allowed 1.23 bombs per nine innings pitched this season.
The Cubs are going to test Mahle on Saturday afternoon. Mahle is primarily a groundball pitcher and may be able to take advantage of the Cubs 23 percent strikeout rate but a 30 percent flyball rate against Chicago and its .351 OBP and .190 ISO may be too much for Mahle to handle on Saturday.
Best Home Offense in National League
Chicago split its four-game home series with the Phillies and has a 17-8 record at Wrigley Field this season. Now that the weather is warming up the offensive numbers for the Cubs should start to increase. The Cubs boast the best offense in the National League and averages 4.56 runs per game this season at Wrigley. The Cubs pitching staff is second in baseball at home this season with a 2.65 ERA and a 24 percent strikeout rate at home this season. Perhaps this is a good reason as to why the Cubs has outscored their opponents by a 61-run margin this season.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 23, 2019
The Cubs have injury concerns but no new injuries or significant injuries have been added to the list during the last ten days.
Darvish (2-3, 5.03 ERA) has had a roller-coaster type season and has lasted five or more innings in six of his last ten starts. The Cubs score an average of 4.7 runs per Darvish start so he can’t blame his funky season on a lack of run support. Darvish has a 5.03 but his 4.20 xFIP suggests maybe Darvish has been the victim of some bad luck and he could see some positive regression at some point this season. Darvish strikes out 11.63, walks 6.75 and allows 1.50 bombs per nine innings pitched this season.
Cincinnati boasts the 26th best offense against righties in MLB this season and Darvish might see a bump in his considerable strikeout per nine inning average with the Reds 24 percent strikeout percentage. The Reds .321 OBP and .201 ISO against righties might be problematic for Darvish but we also must keep in mind the Reds horrible road numbers mentioned in the opening paragraph.
- 24-11 last 35 overall.
- 13-6 last 19 home games.
- 2-12 in Mahle’s last 14 starts.
- 1-10 in Mahle’s last 11 road starts.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Chicago will likely be the favorite but we might get a good price on the Cubs with Darvish on the bump. And we want to play the Cubs on Saturday. Chicago scores nearly five runs a game at Wrigley this season and while Mahle has been rock steady, for whatever reason the Reds don’t score runs for him. Darvish has pitched better over his last few starts and I expect him to give Chicago a strong outing on Saturday. Cash with the Flash and play the Cubs to defeat Cincinnati on Saturday.
Full-Game Total Pick
Two strong groundball pitchers at Wrigley with high strikeout rates and low home run allowed totals makes a nice recipe for playing the under on Saturday. I’m not a big fan of the six-plus walks Darvish allows but the Reds 8.1 percent walk rate makes me breathe easier. Cincinnati is a lousy hitting team right now and I look for a 5-1 type of baseball game on Saturday. Cash with the Flash and play the under on Saturday!!