Bet Cubs in Series Opener & Potential World Series Preview vs. Yankees on May 5

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 4, 2017 6:58 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 4, 2017 6:58 PM UTC

What a better way to get Cinco de Mayo started than a potential World Series preview from Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon (2:20 ET) between the Yankees and Cubs? It’s arguably the most interesting series of the season.

MLB Season Record: 11-5

New York Yankees At Chicago Cubs (-118, total TBA)

Think the Fox TV network would be giddy if the Yankees and Cubs met in the 2017 World Series? It would be a rating bonanza between the two most popular franchises in baseball. It could happen, too, as the Bombers are surprise leaders of the AL East and the Cubs, as expected, are atop the NL Central. I still don’t think the Yankees have the pitching to win their division and they are +250 second-favorites on MLB odds to Boston (+105). Chicago should run away with the NL Central again and it is a heavy -600 favorite to repeat there. The Cubs are also +425 favorites to win another World Series and the Yankees +1200.

The Cubbies likely don’t end their 108-year World Series drought in 2016 without a midseason trade for Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The deal was worthwhile for Theo Epstein & Co. even though it cost the Cubs highly-touted youngster Gleyber Torres, who is now the Yankees’ top prospect. Chapman returned to the Yankees in free agency this offseason – after criticizing Cubs manager Joe Maddon for how he overused Chapman in the playoffs -- and has been great with a 0.87 ERA and six saves. Chapman will get his World Series ring this weekend. The Cubs haven’t missed him much as they trade for Royals closer Wade Davis and he has been just as good.

One of the big stories of the season thus far has been Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. He’s not just the AL Rookie of the Year favorite but also an MVP candidate. Judge’s 13 homers in his team’s first 26 games of a season are an MLB record. Judge leads MLB with 13 homers and has hit a league-best six of them 425 feet or more. The guy is a monster at 6-foot-7, 280. Judge is currently +550 to win the AL MVP at BetOnline and the +450 favorite to lead the majors in homers. Judge is homering every 6.54 at-bats. When Barry Bonds set the MLB record of 73 in 2001, he hit one every 6.52 at-bats. Judge isn’t hitting 70 dingers as the league will adjust to him, but 40 seems very doable. The MLB rookie record for homers is Mark McGwire’s 49 in 1987. This will be Judge’s first crack at Wrigley Field.

The Yankees will lose the DH for this interleague series, meaning either Chris Carter or Matt Holliday will take a seat, with one of them playing first base. However, New York is expected to activate catcher Gary Sanchez, who had a Judge-like impact last season, from the DL. Sanchez has been out since April 8 with a biceps injury. Judge became the seventh player in major league history to hit at least 17 homers in his first 52 games. The other Yankee to do was Sanchez in 2016.


Friday’s Probable Pitchers

The Yankees start right-hander Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14). The 28-year-old can be wildly inconsistent. In his first start of the year, Pineda was roughed up for four runs and eight hits over 3.2 innings in a loss at Tampa Bay. Since then, he hasn’t allowed more than three earned in any start. He threw a season-high 104 pitches last Saturday in beating Baltimore, allowing no earned and striking out eight in 5.1 innings.

Pineda is 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA on the road this year but 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts during the day. Only a few Cubs have seen him. Ben Zobrist has the most, going 2-for-12 with three RBIs. Anthony Rizzo is 1-for-2 with a triple. Jason Heyward is the only other one, going 1-for-3.

It’s reigning NL ERA champion Kyle Hendricks (4-1, 4.18) for Chicago. His first three starts were very shaky but the last two have been quality. This will be his second in a row vs. an AL East team as he pitched in Boston last Sunday night and gave up two earned over six innings in a no-decision.

Hendricks is 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA at home this year after going 9-2 with a spectacular 1.32 ERA at Wrigley in 2016. He has never faced the Yankees and the only two New York players to face him are Carter (3-for-9, 1 HR) and Holliday (7-for-15, 3 HRs).

I have been crushing it on totals for my MLB picks of late in winning six in a row on the total (one missed side in there). As usual, no early total on a Cubs home game until the winds can be determined. So we’ll go with Chicago on the moneyline MLB pick as the Yanks are 5-6 on the road compared to 12-3 at home. New York is also 3-7 in its past 10 interleague road games.

Free MLB Pick: Cubs -118Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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