MLB Best Bet: Friday, August 17

Rizzo Bryant Cubs World Series

Just one MLB play today, but I love this pick.

The Play: Chicago Cubs -140 at Pittsburgh Pirates.

I love this play for three reasons, and the first is Cole Hamels.

Since joining the Cubs, Hamels has thrown 18 innings, struck out 20 batters, issued just four walks and has an ERA of 1.94 to go along with a WHIP of 0.83. Now I don’t expect him to keep up those numbers, but Hamels has looked every bit of his former ace-level self.

The second reason I love this bet is the Pirates have a lefty-heavy starting lineup. The potency in the Pirates lineup is also lacking, to say the least. Gregory Polanco, a lefty, leads the team with 19 home runs but has an OPS of just .807. The team leader in OPS at .843 is their catcher Francisco Cervelli and while he does bat right handed, he doesn’t scare me too much with just 11 home runs on the season. Second on the team in OPS is David Freese at .816 and he is also right handed, but when Freese and Cerveli pose the biggest threats that’s a team I want to bet against.

A team I definitely want to bet on is the Cubs. The Cubs hit their high water mark for games over .500 last night and lead the NL with a record of 70-50. This is a team that leads the league in comeback wins and more often than not finds ways to win games.

One final factor I haven’t brought up yet is the opposing pitcher, Trevor Williams. While Williams has a nice looking ERA of 3.66 on the surface, a look at his advanced metrics tells a different story. Williams strikes out just six batters per nine innings which is well below average, so he is often relying on balls in play to go his way. So far this year they have, as he has a BABIP of just .264 which is an unsustainable number unless you have elite defense behind you.

Taking a look at the advanced ERA predictors tells us that regression is coming for Williams:

FIP: 4.27

xFIP: 4.85

SIERA: 4.95

Cubs at just -140 with Cole Hamels on the mound against that guy? Yes please.

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