MLB Picks: Dodgers vs. Cubs Underdog Play

Joe Freda

Thursday, August 1, 2013 12:33 PM GMT

Thursday’s MLB action has the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers opening a four-game set at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have begun their homestand with a 1-3 mark. Capper Joe Freda shares his MLB picks for tonight's matchup, helping you cash in.

Dodgers righty Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.72 ERA) is slated to face Cubs left-hander Christopher Rusin (1-0, 2.93 ERA).

Check out our Thursday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.

Cubs end skid, Dodgers fall

Chicago avoided a sweep from the Milwaukee Brewers with Wednesday’s 6-1 victory, cashing as a 136 home favorite. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo poked a homer and double, while leadoff man David DeJesus notched three RBIs.

Los Angeles saw a four-game winning streak end on the same card, falling as 175 home ‘chalk’ in a late 3-0 setback to the New York Yankees. Dodgers mates Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez were both held to 0-for-4 nights, striking out a combined five times.

Rusin shuts down Giants

Rusin picked up a no-decision in Saturday’s 1-0 victory for Chicago as a 219 road dog over the San Francisco Giants. The second-year starter allowed no runs over seven innings, holding San Francisco’s lineup to three hits. 

Chicago’s Nate Schierholtz drilled a late solo shot homer, giving his squad its go-ahead in the top of the ninth frame. Cubs closer Kevin Gregg finished the affair for his 21st save, while reliever Pedro Strop came away with the staff’s win. 

Nolasco cashes on the road

Nolasco has been idle since July 24, logging a no-decision in Los Angeles’ 8-3 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays. The 30-year-old made his fourth start for the Dodgers after being acquired from the Miami Marlins, allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig scored his club’s tying run in the ninth frame, while drilling a homer as part of a go-ahead surge in the 10th inning. Los Angeles’ Andre Ethier finished 4-for-6, including a pair of doubles.

[gameodds]3/240367/?r3=43-349/dec&r-1=43-999997-349/us[/gameodds]

Back the Cubs as home dogs

The MLB odds at William Hill opened Nolasco as a 150 road favorite, while first leaving the ‘total’ off the MLB betting board. The weather forecast in Chicago calls for 76 degrees, with clear skies and calm winds. 

I am backing Rusin and the Cubs in this spot, taking a price of plus 130 with my MLB picks.

Rusin has given up a stingy 0.98 WHIP and .250 OBP over his first three starts, allowing five earned runs over 15 1/3 IP. Chicago is 4-1 in its last five spots as an underdog, while cashing at a 6-1 clip in the team’s last seven series openers. 

Nolasco faces a Cubs lineup that has hit .262 at home against right-handed pitching, while overvalued here in his first spot all year as road ‘chalk.’ Los Angeles is 4-9 in its last 13 road games against clubs with losing home records, while facing a tough spot of traveling east after a close contest with the Yankees. 

Chicago’s Starlin Castro and Dioner Navarro have united to hit 13-for-28 against Nolasco’s arm, while both coming in with warm bats. Castro homered in Wednesday’s 2-for-4 outing against the Brewers, while Navarro went 3-for-4 the night before. 

Look for Los Angeles to be handed a losing ticket here, adding to the club’s 2-8 slump over its last 10 road spots against left-handed starters. 

Free MLB Pick: Chicago Cubs +130 at William Hill