Dodgers at Cubs Game 2 MLB Pick June 19
*Note: This pick is for Game 2 of today’s doubleheader between the Cubs and Dodgers.
The opener of the 3-game midweek series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers was rained out, which means the teams will play 2 at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Kenta Maeda will take on Tyler Chatwood in the opener, with Rich Hill opposing Mike Montgomery in the nightcap.
This will be Hill’s first start in exactly a month. Back on May 19, he left his start against the Reds after throwing just 2 pitches due to a finger issue on his throwing hand. Blisters on his throwing fingers have plagued Hill for years, but here’s hoping it’s finally in the rearview mirror. During his time away, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt reportedly helped make an adjustment to Hill’s delivery. When asked about the adjustment, Hill said, “[The adjustment has] helped me get back that efficient spin rate I had the last three years. When I was on my toe, I would dive across [the first-base side of the mound]. On my heel, I’m able to stay more in line toward the plate. It’s very subtle, but credit to Rick, being the best pitching coach in the business.”
Hill has reshaped himself late in his career thanks to a devastating curveball. So far this season, though, the results haven’t quite been there. The lefty has a decent strikeout rate over 21 percent so far this season, but that’s down considerably from his 30.1 percent K-rate a season ago. Hill’s 4.65 SIERA is also quite a bit worse than his 3.61 mark from 2017. He could always be in decline now that he’s 38 years old, but Hill just didn’t look like the same guy earlier in the season.
Here’s hoping his mechanical adjustment will help him rediscover his magic. When he’s right, he’s one of the toughest pitchers to pick up in all of baseball. At this point, it’s really just a matter of staying healthy and staying consistent with his motion.
Hill is also a reverse-split left-hander with a fly ball lean. He’s kept the hard-hit rate against him at or under 30 percent for the last several years, but this year it’s all the way up over 46 percent. Hill has also allowed 7 homers in just 6 starts after conceding just 18 in 25 outings a season ago. The southpaw did strike out 10 during his last rehab start in the minors, so perhaps he’s figured something out.
As for Montgomery, the lefty has pitched well since being promoted into the starting rotation. Montgomery has enjoyed 3 straight outings in which he allowed just a single run in 6 innings of work. His season-long numbers are a bit skewed considering just 4 of his 22 outings on the season have been starts, but he has a middling strikeout rate just under 15 percent.
One excellent aspect of Monty’s work to this point has been his hard contact. Montgomery actually has a soft contact rate 2 percentage points higher than his hard-hit rate, which is impressive. The lefty has also kept the ball on the ground at a 62 percent clip, which is elite.
One issue for Montgomery today will be his matchup against a red-hot Dodgers offense. Since the calendar flipped to June, the Dodgers lead all of baseball in home runs (34) and wOBA (.378). LAD also ranks second in the league in wRC+ (143). The Dodgers have historically struggled against left-handed pitching, but those woes have been helped by the resurgent play of Matt Kemp this season.
Kemp has been a revelation since returning to the Dodgers as an afterthought this past winter. Few thought he would make it to spring training with the club, but through the first 3 months of the season, the former MVP candidate has been the team’s best hitter. On the year, Kemp is slashing .338/.374/.579 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI.
Kemp has also continued to rake left-handed pitching, as evidenced by a .361 batting average and a wOBA of .466 against them. 6 of his 12 dingers have also come at the expense of left-handed pitchers.
It’s rare these days to catch the Dodgers as an underdog, but if Hill has really fixed his mechanical issues, there’s a lot to like with this play tonight. There’s no telling what lineups will look like considering this will be the second game of the day, but I like the value on the Dodgers at +115 on the moneyline.
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