In: MLB Free Picks6 Sep 2011
Chris Hodge, Free Picks Newsletter Editor
238-140-2 of last 380
MLB: Cincinnati Reds (-135)vs. Chicago Cubs (+115) Over/Under (7o -125)
Carlos Pena didn’t get the start yesterday against the left-handed Dontrelle WIllis, but odds are pretty good we’ll see him tonight against Mike Leake. Pena’s stats for the season are almost as woeful as the Cubs’ record for the year, but when it comes to Reds pitching, he goes ape-stick.
Alright, ape-stick might be a bit of a stretch, but he is the most successful Cubs player versus Reds pitching. Through 11 games, Pena is hitting .353 with 4 HRs, 13 RBIs and 10 walks. Pena has only faced tonight’s scheduled starter Mike Leake four times, collecting only one hit, but other guys in the lineup have fared much better.
Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Blake DeWitt have a combined 34 at-bats against Leake this season, and the trio are hitting a combined .411 against him. With a few more at-bats today, Pena could easily continue his feast on the Reds and with Leake on the mound.
I believe the Cubs will score runs in this game tonight. It will be up to 35-year-old Rodrigo Lopez to keep the Reds at bay, which is where my confidence is lacking, but only somewhat.
I was perusing some fantasy baseball tips yesterday and saw someone describe Lopez as, “the epitome of mediocrity.” A look at his stats supports that claim. However, when you break down Lopez’ numbers we see that he has been considerably more successful at Wrigley Field than he has at other places in the league.
He’s got a 3-2 won-lost record at home, and his ERA is a point and a half lower, at 4.06, when he’s pitching on the north side. In fact, he’s really only had one bad start at home this year, and that was just a few weeks ago against the St. Louis Cardinals. In that game, he allowed five earned runs and 10 hits. In his previous home starts, he held teams like Philadelphia and the other Chicago team to one run or less.
The Reds are coming into this game struggling as badly as the Cubs.
The numbers and trends point to the Cubs getting the win tonight. I also give them the advantage because they are at home, and a number of the guys in the lineup have had success against Leake.
Pick: Take the Chicago Cubs (+115)