Phillies at Cubs MLB Pick for May 20

The Cubs and Phillies were billed prior to the season as two legitimate contenders in the National League. So far, both teams have looked the part. The Cubs got off to a shaky start, but they have bounced back in a big way since. Chicago owns a 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the competitive NL Central heading into play tonight.

The Phillies are fresh off a three-game weekend sweep of the Rockies, and their 27-19 record is good for second-best in the NL behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Phils haven’t been as dominant as many may have expected, but Bryce Harper and the team do seem to be hitting their stride as the weather gets warmer. Both the Cubs and Phillies are 6-4 over their last 10 games.

Betting Data Phillies Cubs
2019 Straight-up 27-19 27-17
2019 Home 18-10 15-6
2019 Away 9-9 12-11
2019 ATR 23-23-0 23-21-0
2019 ATR Home 13-15-0 13-8-0
2019 ATR Away 10-8-0 10-13-0
2019 O/U 19-26-1 23-21-0
2019 O/U Home 13-15-0 8-13-0
2019 O/U Away 6-11-1 15-8-0

Darvish Turnaround?

In the winter of 2017, the Cubs signed Yu Darvish to a free agent contract worth over $100 million. Chicago decided to let former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta walk in the process, and they figured the younger Darvish would be a better fit in the rotation moving forward.

Unfortunately, Darvish has yet to hit his stride. He was limited to just eight starts a season ago due to injury. So far, this season, he has largely struggled through his first nine outings. Darvish has a 5.14 ERA alongside a 2-3 record to this point, though he has shown signs of figuring it out.

Darvish racked up a season-high 11 strikeouts in his most recent outing against the Reds. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of his outing was the fact that he didn’t walk anyone either. Darvish had walked a combined 11 hitters over the course of his previous two starts, and walks have plagued him all season long.

The hefty 28.7% strikeout rate on the season is evidence that Yu still has swing-and-miss stuff, but his walk rate over 17% is also one of the highest marks in the league. Piling up strikeouts and walks is a good way to drive up the pitch count, which explains why Darvish hasn’t pitched deep into many starts this season. Yu has completed six innings of work just once on the year.

Arrieta Revenge?

Arrieta will take the ball for the Phillies tonight, and this will be his first start at Wrigley Field since leaving the Cubs prior to last season. If the early results are any indication, the Cubs were smart not to pay big money to keep him. Arrieta hasn’t been bad since joining the Phillies, but he’s clearly not the same guy he was during his time in the Windy City.

Arrieta’s strikeout rate is sitting around 19% since joining the Phillies, which is a considerable drop-off from where he was during his days as a Cub. Arrieta posted a K-rate over 27% in his stellar 2015 campaign, though his strikeout stuff has been gradually tailing off ever since.

So far this season, Arrieta owns a walk rate nearing 10%. That’s not Darvish country, but it’s still quite high. He’s generating ground balls at a decent clip (51.9%), but he’s also allowing more hard hits than ever (36.2%).

The expected Cubs lineup tonight has a collective wOBA of .343 against right-handed pitching on the season, and his struggles to miss bats could plague him here against his former team.

The Pick

I like the spot for the Cubs tonight against Arrieta. He’s no longer the elite starter he used to be, yet I still think he gets a little too much respect. He’s a recognizable name, but the Cubs have been one of the most productive offenses in baseball over the last month.

It’s hard to trust the Cubs with the volatile Darvish taking the mound, but he should get a decent amount of run support in this one. Arrieta’s return to Wrigley won’t be so triumphant. The Cubs at -125 to win the game outright on the moneyline is a decent bet, but I really like the +160 odds you can get on Chicago covering the runline.

Bet on the Cubs on the runline for tonight’s game.

Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with 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, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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