MLB Picks: Finding The Best Value In The Cubs vs. Giants Odds

Jason Lake

Friday, May 20, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Friday, May. 20, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

The San Francisco Giants are in first place in the NL West, but they aren't all that. Still, the Chicago Cubs might be too chalky for our baseball picks this Friday.

There's no team in the majors that can hold a candle to the Chicago Cubs right now. The Cubs lead the majors at 28-11, and they're still raking in the cash at 7.95 units in the black. How do they do it? With an eye-popping run differential of plus-106. That translates to a Pythagorean win-loss record of 31-8. Ah, that Pythagoras. He was something special.

The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, are in first place in the National League West at 25-18 (+4.26 units), but their plus-10 run differential works out to 23-20 in Pythagorean terms. Not so special. But we might have to put the Giants in our MLB picks when they host the Cubs this Friday (10:15 p.m. ET) in the first game of a three-game set. Chicago is a hefty –200 favorite as we go to press. Too hefty, it would appear.


The Two Jakes
That's because Jake Arrieta (2.61 FIP) is scheduled to take the mound for the Cubs. You might be familiar with his work: reigning NL Cy Young winner, 8-0 team record for eight units of profit, yadda yadda. Very impressive. Arrieta has also been somewhat lucky this year. He's allowed a puny .203 BABIP, well below his already-low .268 career BABIP. On top of that, 86.3 percent of opposing base runners have been stranded; Arrieta's career average is 71.9 percent. The regression monsters are coming for you, Jake.

No, not you, Jake Peavy (4.76 FIP). Actually, regression is just around the corner, but it's the good kind – Peavy's unsightly .372 BABIP and 62.1 LOB% are part of the reason San Francisco is 3-5 behind the 2007 Cy Young winner, dropping 2.20 units in earnings. It hardly seems fair. The baseball nerds at FiveThirtyEight agree, projecting the Cubs to win Friday's game 64 percent of the time. That works out to –178 using our indefatigable SBR Betting Odds Converter.


Fantasy Corner
The MLB odds may be too tilted in Chicago's favor, but we're pretty sure you'll want to avoid putting any San Francisco batters in your fantasy lineup. Then again, current Cubs have a combined .711 OPS against Peavy, so that's not very good either. Maybe a Chicago reliever, then? The Cubs are still probably going to win this game; Pedro Strop (2.55 FIP) is only owned in 6.6 percent of ESPN leagues at press time, he didn't pitch Thursday, and he's got a win and eight holds in 19 appearances.

Otherwise, as we said, the Cubs are just too pricey for us to recommend this time around. If you want to bet on them, great, but you'll have to pay a premium. That's not how you grow a bankroll. Having said that, make this contrarian bet a suitably small one, and may the sphere be with you.

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Free MLB Pick: Giants +183
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Record: 8-6 ML, 1-0 Totals (+3.24 units)

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