Cincinnati will try and improve on its atrocious road record Friday when they begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds have struggled to score runs away from Great America Ballpark this season and it has translated to a 3-10 road record, good enough for third in the National League Central. Cinci is scoring 3.15 runs per game (RPG) on the road compared to 5.44 RPG when playing at the ‘launch pad’ in Ohio, but they still hold a 3.5 game lead over the traditionally terrible Cubbies.
Mike Leake (1-1, 4.34 ERA) will face Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 2.29 ERA) and each of these pitchers will be aided by a strong wind blowing in from center field. The forecast for Wrigley Field last night showed a 50-percent chance of showers Friday with 11 mph winds blowing straight in from center but today it looks like a possible delay for a thunder shower is all these players will have to deal with.
Oddsmakers held off on releasing a total for this contest but betting sites have settled on Chicago -109 and 7 Under (-101). Cinci was originally pencilled as the -109 favorite but the Cubs have a 29-26 record the past few years in home games when the total is 7 runs or less and bettors are taking notice.
The “Over” has hit in 59-percent of those games (29-20-6 O/U) and given the performance of these two bullpens, it’s easy to see how this one could range into high side regardless of what the two starters do. Cinci has a 3.86 ERA from its relievers and the Cubs rank 21st in the league at 4.28 ERA.
Cinci is 2-5 on its current road trip and scoring just two runs per game but the Reds have won six consecutive games at Wrigley and are looking for payback vs. Villanueva after he was able to shut them down in a 4-2 win at Cinci April 23.
Chicago hit the ball well in its four-game series vs. the Padres and we also expect them to have some success vs. Leake.
Mike Estabrook is the home plate umpire and he’s 2-0-1 O/U this year with a 59-percent hit rate to the “Over” in National League games since 2008 (33-23-4 O/U). Overall, when the total is 7 or less, Estabrook is 14-6-4 O/U since 2006.
Pick: Take the Over
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