There’s no shortage of optimism surrounding the Chicago Cubs this year. The MLB odds are bullish on their World Series chances, although the Colorado Rockies are favored for Saturday’s matchup.
We’ll spare you the old yarn about how the sportsbooks are filled with Chicago Cubs money. Instead, let’s jump straight into the 2015 campaign, where the Cubs are priced at 17-2 to win their first World Series since the Roosevelt Administration – that’s Teddy Roosevelt, of course. The Cubs have the front office in place, and there’s plenty of talent on the mound and in the batting order. Even the minor leagues are stocked.
All well and good, but this Saturday (8:10 p.m. ET), the MLB odds have the Cubs priced at +108 for their road game against the Colorado Rockies, who are 25-1 outsiders to win their first World Series in franchise history. Chicago will send prodigal son Jason Hammel to the mound against Kyle Kendrick, who’s coming off seven innings of shutout work in Colorado’s 10-0 opening day victory over the Milwaukee Brewers (–145 at home). Intriguing.
Sweet Home Chicago
We haven’t seen Hammel pitch for the Cubs yet this season; he was supposed to start Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals, but Chicago had to shuffle the rotation after Tuesday’s game was postponed because of rain. Having his schedule disrupted could make the Cubs worth fading with our MLB picks in this situation.
The bigger question is which version of Hammel we’ll see on Saturday. Will it be the one that posted a 3.19 FIP in 17 starts for the Cubs, generating 4.88 units of profit on a team record of 10-7? Or will it be the one who melted down and posted a 5.10 FIP after getting traded to the Oakland A’s? They went 2-10 in his 12 starts, coughing up 11.69 units along the way – and if that weren’t bad enough, Hammel was on the mound when Salvador Perez hit a walk-off single in the 12th as the Kansas City Royals won the AL Wild Card game.
As it usually is with these things, we’ll probably see a version of Hammel that lies somewhere in between those two extremes. He’s only got a 4.27 career FIP, but Hammel found success in Chicago when he started working with respected pitching coach Chris Bosio. No wonder he’s back in the Windy City.
Kendrick had been a member of the Philadelphia Phillies staff since making his MLB debut in 2007, eating up innings and not particularly impressing anyone with his 4.63 FIP. But at least Kendrick was consistently unimpressive. Last year’s 4.57 FIP was actually good enough to earn 3.58 units of profit on a team record of 16-16, which is saying something when the Phillies were last in the NL East at 73-89.
So why was Kendrick starting on Opening Day for the Rockies? Partly because they have a history of making interesting decisions with their rotation, but mostly because they wanted Jorge de la Rosa to pitch Friday’s home opener at Coors Field. As it turned out, De La Rosa was sent to the minors to rehab his strained groin, so Tyler Matzek and five relievers combined to beat the Cubs 5-1 as –133 favorites. The Rockies are now 4-0 for the first time in 20 years.
Using all those relievers could be problematic come Saturday, especially if Kendrick turns back into a pumpkin. And as you know, Coors Field is a wonderful place for hitters. Need a catcher? Miggy Montero is 6-for-13 lifetime against Kendrick with a home run and a 1.332 OPS. Montero is also just 30% owned at Yahoo, and for good reason – he’s not likely to play as much this year, with Jon Lester preferring David Ross as his battery mate. But we’re anticipating Montero will get the start Saturday against the right-handed Kendrick, and for our baseball pick, we’re betting on Kendrick to regress while Hammel gets his groove back.
MLB Free Picks: Take the Cubs +110 at BetOnline