BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Chicago Cubs
BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. Over the course of the next few months, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.
2019 Record: 84-78
2019 Profits: -9.4 units
2020 Win Total: 86 (based on 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win NL Central: +230
2020 Odds to Win NL Pennant: +1075
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +2350
Betting Positives: There’s still enough offensive talent to contend but the clock is ticking. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber all have 30+ homer potential (based on a full season). And the supporting cast of Jason Heyward, Wilson Contreras, Ian Happ, Victor Caratini, and newly acquired Jason Kipnis and Steve Souza Jr. offers plenty of platoon flexibility. It’s a lineup that while not as loaded as the Dodgers or talented as the Braves, should have no trouble plating runs. And a big emphasis this season — one that helped the Cubs win the World Series in 2016 but also underachieve in 2019 — is fielding and base running. You could make a strong argument both of those facets were the reason the Cubs failed to make last year’s postseason.
Betting Negatives: The starting staff should concern bettors. Jon Lester is 36 years old and faded hard the second half of last season. Yu Darvish, who will turn 34 in August, did the opposite and finally pitched to his contract with a 2.83 FIP after the All-Star break. But it’s reasonable to think his elite-level days are long gone. Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana remain capable of chewing up innings but walk a fine line due to their inability to miss bats at a league average level. And with Cole Hamels gone, who will step in as the team’s fifth starter? Right now it’s Tyler Chatwood who is a lightning rod for health and control issues. The bullpen is also scary with key cogs Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Jeffress on the downside of their respective careers. And let’s see how first-year manager David Ross handles the organization’s “win now” mantra. Perhaps Joe Maddon did wear out his welcome but there aren’t many manager better built to handle this season’s unique format.
Handicapper’s Take: What type of scenario would it take for the Cubs to be a viable “bet on” club? Winning clearly isn’t enough. Since 2016, the Cubs are 374-274 -12.5 units. Think about that. One hundred games over .500 and still a money burner. It took 103- and 95-win seasons to turn a profit and even then it only resulted in a minuscule +1.8 and +2.7 units, respectively. Perhaps last year’s lackluster 84-78 will soften the market some but this is still a household brand loaded with household players. Arizona, for example, won one more game than the Cubs in 2019 yet there was nearly 20 units separating the two squads. All that being said, while “high profile” teams don’t tend to fare well from a season-long betting perspective, there’s reason to believe the Cubs will once again perform at an above average level. Betting on Chicago essentially comes down to discipline as recent history clearly illustrates they are more often than not overvalued in the markets. It’s not so much is this team good — they are — but how they are priced.