Mets at Cubs MLB Pick August 27
The Chicago Cubs made a couple of big acquisitions in recent weeks, and they seem to be paying dividends. Cole Hamels hasn’t lost a start since coming over from the Texas Rangers in late-July, while Daniel Murphy has hit the ball well out of the leadoff spot since coming to Chicago last week. The Cubs actually haven’t lost since acquiring Murphy from the disastrous Washington Nationals 6 days ago.
Chicago used a weekend 4-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds to put some distance between themselves and the Cardinals and Brewers in the NL Central. The Cubs now hold a 4-game edge on St. Louis for the top spot, and they’re 4.5 games ahead of Milwaukee. The Cubs’ 76-53 record is also quietly the best mark in the National League, which is certainly something that could pay some dividends come playoff time. Tonight, Chicago will welcome the lowly New York Mets to Wrigley Field to start a 3-game midweek series.
Noah Syndergaard will climb the mound for the Mets against Jon Lester for the Cubs.
Syndergaard has been solid this season for the Mets, but he hasn’t been quite as dynamic as he has been over the last few years. The numbers are still good, though. Thor boasts a 24.6 percent strikeout rate along with a manageably low walk rate. He keeps the ball on the ground at a clip nearing 50 percent and the hard contact rate against him around 20 percent is one of the lowest marks in all of baseball. His soft contact rate is impressively about 6 percent higher.
The 3.32 SIERA is higher than it’s been in the past, but that’s still an excellent mark. Syndergaard has allowed just 6 home runs in 18 starts this season, though that number is likely aided by the fact that his home park is one of the most pitcher-friendly in all of baseball.
The problem with Syndergaard tonight is that he’ll be pitching in absolutely elite hitting conditions. Wrigley Field is the ballpark in baseball most drastically affected by wind. When the wind is blowing in from the outfield, it’s a pitcher’s paradise. When the wind is howling out toward the outfield, it’s a hitter’s haven. Tonight, we have the latter. Winds are going to be blowing out at a sustained rate north of 15 miles per hour, which means the ball will be absolutely flying. Pop-ups literally have a chance of being carried all the way out over the wall.
The Cubs have been using the recent windy weather in Chicago to their advantage. The team scored 29 runs over the course of their 4-game sweep of the Reds, including 19 in the last 2 games combined. Syndergaard is obviously an ace, but any pitcher pitching in these conditions is at risk of getting blown up.
As for Lester, he’s finally seeing the regression I’ve been calling for all year long. He has fared a little better over his last couple of outings against the Pirates and Tigers, but I think he’ll come crashing back down to earth tonight. Lester’s 3.64 ERA on the season isn’t bad, but his SIERA (4.68) is over a full run higher. He’s gotten super lucky this season.
The peripherals tell the story here. Lester has seen his strikeouts dip from 23.6 percent last year to 18.9 percent this season. His walk rate is up, and he’s allowed 33.4 percent hard hits after limiting opposing hitters to a 28.1 percent mark last season. Most importantly, Lester’s ground ball rate has dropped about 9 percent from where it was last season. He’s profiled as much more of a fly ball guy so far in 2018. Obviously, with the wind howling against him, that’s problematic for him tonight.
One thing to Lester’s advantage will be that he’ll hold the platoon edge against a couple of the Mets’ better hitters. Lester has held lefties to a .293 wOBA over the course of his career, and neither Michael Conforto nor Jeff McNeil will have the platoon advantage. There are some decent right-handed bats in the Mets’ lineup (Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores), though, which could give him a little bit of trouble.
This game just has shootout written all over it. Lester is a much more average pitcher than he’s looked for most of the season, while Syndergaard has been more hittable than in years past. While I’m a little worried the relatively weak Mets’ offense may not hold up their end of the bargain, I do feel confident that we can get a solid over on this one. The total of 10 here is too low for a game with hot weather and super windy conditions. This could be a spot where we see at least one of them crack 10 by themselves.
So, give me the hard over on 10 runs at Wrigley Field tonight.
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