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After a slow start to 2018, Cubs starter Jose Quintana is starting to look like his old self again. Can he keep it up against the Brewers tonight?
Welcome back to the LazyBets Free MLB Picks column. Our faith in Arizona starter Zack Godley paid off yesterday, as he was able to keep the Rockies’ bats in check until Paul Goldschmidt and the offense woke up in a 8-3 D’Backs win. We knew Goldy’s bat would wake up eventually - maybe he’s finally back to his old self. That would make us happy, because the NL West race is looking a little crowded and we’ve got the Snakes at +530.
We’re looking to start this week off strong, and to do so we’re going back for another helping against a pitcher we bet against early last week. Let’s get into it.
Chicago Cubs (Quintana) at Milwaukee Brewers (Guerra)
When we bet against Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra in his start last Tuesday, things couldn’t have gone much better for us - the Indians got the win, but Guerra was able to post a quality start and keep his 2018 ERA at a shiny 2.83. That means that we can continue fading him, as some bettors may have a higher opinion of Guerra than they should based on his solid start to the season.
As we mentioned in the column last week, batters are making good contact against Guerra - he now ranks 11th in Hard% amongst pitchers with at least 50 IP. This stat doesn’t jive with his homer rate or his BABIP, which both suggest that hitters are making very poor contact against him, which is not the case. This means Guerra is getting lucky - these hard hit balls are going to start finding the outfield grass or the bleachers. We don’t need to wait around to make sure - we’d like to be there profiting when Guerra’s ERA starts shooting up.
After a shaky start to 2018, Cubs starter Jose Quintana is starting to settle in, posting quality starts in three of his last four appearances. His numbers haven’t quite leveled off - his 4.20 ERA would be the highest of his career if the season ended today. When pitching for the White Sox from 2013-2016, Quintana pitched at least 200 innings with his worst ERA for a season being 3.51. This level of consistency and success is what keeps the projected stats for Quintana so positive, even after 1.5 shaky seasons. Steamer expects his rest of season ERA to be a solid 3.57, with his currently dangerous walk rate of 4.34 per nine coming down to a more manageable 2.89. We’re going to continue trust Quintana’s history and expect him to find his groove as the season wears on.
Offensively, the Cubs have a pretty clear advantage as they rank 5th in wRC+ to the Brewers’ 17th. These rankings have time to change as the season goes along, but those ranks feel about right when considering the talent on each ballclub. The Cubs’ group of homegrown hitters are still raking, and Anthony Rizzo has finally gotten it going after a slow start to his 2018. Meanwhile, the Brewers’ three leaders in plate appearances (Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw and Christian Yelich) are all outpacing their own projections, so the Brew Crew could even fall down a few spots if those guys run into extended slumps.
Today’s line clearly reflects the hot start by Junior Guerra and the Brewers this season. While we’re happy for Milwaukee fans that they’ve been able to join the playoff race, we don’t believe in their talent the same way the bookmakers and general public do. Go grab Quintana and the Cubs -117 and trust that you’re betting on the far more talented squad, despite what the early season numbers might suggest.
Good luck to all of you, and as always, let’s get a win!
Bet the Cubs -117
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