We have 10 games on the MLB docket for Monday, including what should be a fun matchup at Wrigley Field. The reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who dropped three of four games in Milwaukee over the weekend, will continue their road trip in Chicago. The Cubs, meanwhile, lost two of their three games over the weekend in Cincinnati.
Both of these teams played wild games on Sunday. The Cubs fell in heartbreaking fashion, 13-12, in a 10-inning affair Sunday afternoon. The teams combined to slug 10 homers in the game before Nick Castellanos won it with a walk-off single. The Dodgers battered the Brewers 16-4, with A.J. Pollock and Matt Beaty incredibly accounting for 15 total RBIs. Both players hit grand slams and combined for three homers and seven total hits as LA was able to salvage one game against the Brewers.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Over 8.5 (-115)
Under 8.5 (-105)
Walker Buehler is set to make another start for the Dodgers in Monday’s series opener, while Kyle Hendricks takes the ball for the Cubs. Los Angeles is a -182 moneyline favorite at MLB betting sites in this one, which has an over/under of 8.5 runs.
Hendricks’ Major Struggles
Hendricks has been one of the most reliable starting pitchers in baseball over the past few years, but he’s still looking to get on track in 2021. The veteran right-hander owns a career ERA of just 3.21 at the major league level, and he has never posted a single-season ERA worse than 3.95.
So far this year, however, he has been terrible. Hendricks is just 1-3 through five starts with a massive 7.54 ERA and a WHIP of 1.76. The right-hander has allowed multiple home runs in each of his last three games. In his most recent start at Atlanta, Hendricks was blasted for seven runs on 11 hits, including three homers, in a 10-0 defeat. One of those homer was hit by Braves pitcher Huascar Ynoa:
Amazingly, Hendricks has already allowed as many homers this season (10) as he allowed all of last year. The Dodgers’ offense has been struggling quite a bit over the past few weeks, but perhaps Sunday’s 16-run explosion will get the bats headed in the right direction.
The Dodgers’ lineup has a collective .224 ISO and a .354 wOBA against right-handed pitching since the beginning of the 2019 season, which makes this one of the most potent offensive teams in all of baseball.
Hendricks has a long enough track record of success to where it’s logical to think that he’ll get his stuff together at some point soon. However, the early-season numbers are awful. Hendricks was never a high-velocity guy to begin with, but the fact that his velo is down even more to begin 2021 is a concern. Hendricks has also allowed an ugly barrel rate north of 15 percent, which is one of the worst marks in the majors. Hendricks has yielded a carer barrel rate of just 4.4 percent, so his ability to locate has been suspect early on.
Buehler’s Solid Start
Unlike his counterpart in tonight’s game, Walker Buehler has gotten decent results thus far. The right-hander is 1-0 through five starts with a solid 3.16 ERA. His last outing was easily his worst, however, as he allowed five runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings in a loss to the Reds. Buehler did strike out 10 in that game, but he also gave up an uncharacteristically good amount of damage.
Buehler’s velocity has also dipped to start the new campaign. His average fastball velocity has been up near 97 miles an hour since his debut in the majors back in 2017. So far this season, however, his average fastball is down at 95.5 miles per hour. His K-rate has also fallen from 28.3 percent in his career to just over 25 percent to begin this season.
Buehler’s control has been impeccable, however, as he has only walked two hitters through his first 31.1 innings. That good control has helped him limit damage for the most part despite his drop in velocity. Buehler is still effectively limiting traffic on the basepaths, but fewer strikeouts also means more balls in play. More balls in play means more potential for damage.
What’s the Best Bet?
The Cubs are currently alone in last place in the National League Central, but the offense has shown some signs of life recently. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Javier Baez have been hitting the ball hard early in the season, and this is still an offense with plenty of on-paper talent. We know what kind of gaudy numbers the Dodgers are capable of posting when they’re right, as well.
Hendricks’ early-season wobbles are clearly concerning, and I think the Dodgers can take advantage. Until we see Hendricks turn things around, I’ll continue to bet against him. Any pitcher that doesn’t have the ability to blow opposing hitters away with velocity is vulnerable to blow-ups, and we’ve seen that from the Cubs’ right-hander early and often this season.
Both pitchers having favorable reputations is probably why the total for this game is as low as it is. I think you should grab the value on the over bet here at 8.5 runs, though, especially given how neither Hendricks nor Buehler has looked quite right so far this season. The over at -116 is the way to go.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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