Bet ‘Over’ Total in Opener of Much Anticipated Cubs-Red Sox Series

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 27, 2017 7:45 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 27, 2017 7:45 PM UTC

We are only in late April, but arguably the most anticipated series of baseball’s regular season begins Friday night (7:10 p.m. ET) from Fenway Park when the Chicago Cubs take on the Boston Red Sox in a potential World Series preview.

MLB Season Record: 8-4

Chicago Cubs At Boston Red Sox (+106, 8)

Game 1 of this incredibly intriguing three-game set between the Cubs and Red Sox is Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET from Fenway Park and will be shown on the MLB Network. To no surprise, each game will be nationally televised in the series.  

So many story lines here. The biggest really has no betting value, but I have to mention it: Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. He was Boston’s general manager from 2002-11 (minor break in there) and built the team that won the 2004 World Series, ending the Red Sox’s 86-year drought. The Sox won it again in 2007 and in 2013. Epstein wasn’t around in ’13 as he left in October 2011 to take on an even bigger challenge on the North Side of Chicago. Of course the Cubs won the 2016 World Series to end a 108-year drought. So Theo Epstein is never going to have to pay for a meal or a beer in the cities of Boston or Chicago the rest of his life and he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer now. The Cubs have three players who were on Boston’s most recent World Series team: starting pitchers Jon Lester and John Lackey and reliever Koji Uehara (he wasn’t on 2016 Cubs).

The other story line is that this could easily be a World Series preview, and that would draw incredible ratings because the Cubs and Red Sox are two of the three most popular teams in MLB (Yankees the other). The Cubs entered the season as MLB betting favorites to repeat in both the National League and in the Fall Classic. They still are in that position, listed at +185 on BetOnline futures for the pennant and +400 for the World Series. The Red Sox were AL favorites and second to the Cubs on the World Series odds but an uneven start has dropped Boston behind Cleveland on both. The Sox are now +360 and +700, respectively. I still believe Boston will be the AL team to beat if David Price gets healthy.

The Cubs are built more like an American League team in that they have a perfect designated hitter on the roster in left fielder Kyle Schwarber. You can expect him to DH this entire series because Schwarber is a poor defender. That allows Manager Joe Maddon to have his best possible lineup on the field both offensively and defensively with Javy Baez at second base and Ben Zobrist in left field. The Cubs got off to a bit of a slow start offensively but are rolling now in scoring at least five runs in seven of their past eight games. They won six of those. Chicago was off Thursday.

Boston isn’t quite at full strength as third baseman Pablo Sandoval was put on the 10-day DL earlier this week with a right knee sprain. He was hitting .213 with three homers and 10 RBIs. Marco Hernandez and Josh Rutledge will split time at the hot corner while Sandoval is out. Set-up man Matt Barnes dropped an appeal of his four-game suspension Wednesday for throwing at the head of Baltimore’s Manny Machado over the weekend. Barnes is eligible to return Sunday.


Probable Pitchers

It’s 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65) for the Cubs. He didn’t allow an earned run in St. Louis over six innings in his first start of the season but has given up at least three earned in each of the three since. Last time out in Cincinnati, Arrieta was tagged for five runs (four earned) and a season-high eight hits over six innings but didn’t walk anyone (control can be a problem) and struck out eight in the victory. The Reds hit two-first inning homers and scored four runs, and then Arrieta calmed down.

Arrieta last faced Boston on June 30, 2014, at Fenway Park Field and kept the Red Sox hitless for 7.2 innings. Arrieta was pulled by then-Cubs manager Rick Renteria immediately after that hit as it came on his 120th pitch. Arrieta is 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA career against Boston. Dustin Pedroia has faced him the most of any Boston player, going 4-for-16 with a homer and three RBIs. Mitch Moreland is 2-for-6 with a homer.

Lefty Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60) gets the call for Boston. He took the loss last Friday in Baltimore in allowing two runs and five hits over 5.1 innings. At home this season, he’s 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts. He did face the Cubs in 2016 while with the Padres and threw six shutout innings in a victory. Chicago’s Jason Heyward is 2-for-4 against him. Kris Bryant is 1-for-2. Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-8. Schwarber hasn’t faced him.

I slightly lean the Cubs here on my MLB pick but like the total more. Arrieta can be a bit wild, so the Red Sox – who lead the AL in batting average -- are probably good for at least four runs. The Cubs, meanwhile, have been one of the best-hitting teams against lefties with a .280 average that’s fourth in MLB against southpaws. Chicago should put up at least five.

MLB Free Pick: ‘Over’ 8Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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