The L.A. Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment, heading into the opener of a four-game series with the suddenly-cold Cubs at Chavez Ravine Monday night (10:10 ET). Which way are we playing this game with our daily free MLB picks?
The MLB Betting Line
Monday’s MLB betting odds opened Los Angeles and Kenta Maeda at around -135 over Chicago and rookie righty Duane Underwood, Jr., with an over/under of 7.5 runs. In early betting action both those figures were holding steady.
The Dodgers could also be found at around +120 giving the run and a half on the run line. The lowest odds favorites and highest paying underdogs are always found at 5Dimes.
The Cubs, battling for first place in the NL Central, just got swept four games at last-place Cincinnati over the weekend, losing Sunday 8-6. Chicago led that game 6-1 into the bottom of the seventh inning, but reliever Pedro Strop got lit up for runs on four hits and three walks as the Reds put up a seven spot and hung on from there.
Prior to the weekend, though, the Cubs had won two series in a row and four of their previous six games.
Big-picture, at 42-33 Chicago trails first-place Milwaukee by two games in the NL Central but also owns the No. 1 National League wild-card spot.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, just swept a three-game series from the Mets in New York, winning Sunday 8-7 in 11 innings. The Dodgers led that game 2-0 early and 7-4 into the bottom of the eighth, let the Mets tie the score at 7-7 but won it on Justin Turner’s home run, the seventh dong of the day for LA, in the top of the 11th inning.
So the Dodgers are 9-1-1 over their last 11 series and 25-9 over their last 34 games.
Big-picture, at 41-35 Los Angeles trails division-leading Arizona by 2.5 games in the NL West but also trails Philadelphia by just a half-game in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Cubs lead this season series two games to one, having taken a series from the Dodgers at Wrigley last week. Also, all three of those games played under on the totals, as the games skewed very low-scoring, averaging less than five runs per.
On the personnel front Chicago slugger Kris Bryant (.383 OBP, nine homers) has missed recent action with a sore shoulder and his status for this series is uncertain.
Monday’s Mound Match-Up
Maeda (4-4, 3.84), by our strict standards, is just 3/12 on quality starts this season, and 0 for his last three.
Last Tuesday he gave up three runs in less that four innings against these Cubbies, and over his last three starts he’s allowed seven runs through 10 1/3 innings. Los Angeles is 6-6 with Maeda this year, with the unders going 8-3.
In three career starts against the Cubs, including that iffy effort last week, Maeda has allowed seven runs and 22 base-runners (hits + walks) over 11 1/3 innings. The Dodgers lost two of those three games, and two of those games played over their totals.
Underwood (0-0, 0.00) is making his ML debut Monday night, as a spot start in place of Tyler Chatwood. Underwood is only 3-7 with a 4.27 ERA down at Triple-A Iowa this year, although some of his internals aren’t too bad. He’s allowed 69 hits through 71 2/3 innings, including just three home runs, walked 20 and struck out 60.
In parts of seven seasons in the Minors Underwood is 31-32 with a 3.79 ERA. Obviously this is Underwood’s first-ever start against Los Angeles, which could give him a slight edge, at least for the first couple of times through the Dodgers lineup.
We’ll give Maeda the check-mark in this pitching match-up, based solely on experience.
Monday’s Batting Splits
Chicago ranks 4th in the Majors against right-handed pitching with a .258 team batting average, No. 1 with a .340 team OBP and 11th with a .418 team slugging percentage.
Los Angeles ranks 15th against RHP with a .246 BA, 7th with a .323 OBP and 4th with a .437 slugging percentage.
We’d give the Cubs the edge with the sticks for this match-up, but Bryant’s potential absence negates that.
The Cubs bullpen ranks 5th in the ML with a 3.12 ERA and 13th with a 1.29 WHIP, while going 20/29 on save opportunities.
The Dodgers pen ranks 10th in ERA at 3.64 and 11th in WHIP at 1.29 while going 22/36 on save chances.
We’ll give Chicago a short edge in the bullpen comparison.
Los Angeles is hot, while the Cubs are probably scratching their heads after what happened over the weekend in Cincinnati, plus the Cubbies had to travel which increases their chances of being tired. We’re betting the Dodgers in this spot. Bet your Cubbies/Dodgers pick for FREE by taking advantage of a generous 50% sign up bonus at a betting site where credit cards work for depositing: Bovada Sportsbook.