Kicking off Saturday afternoon’s MLB action is an NL Central Division matchup in the Windy City with the Chicago Cubs hosting the Milwaukee Brewers.
Chicago won the first matchup 4-0 on Opening Day, and now Milwaukee sits as a –125 favorite as it looks to even up the series.
Will the Brewers get their revenge, or can the Cubs pull off the upset and start the season with a 2-0 record? Find out in our free MLB picks and predictions for Brewers vs Cubs on Saturday, April 1.
Brewers vs Cubs odds
Brewers vs Cubs predictions
Taking the mound for the Brewers in this contest is right-hander Brandon Woodruff. A staple in Milwaukee’s rotation, Woodruff serves dominantly in the “No. 2” role despite the fact that he would be an ace in a good majority of MLB rotations.
Last season, he went 13-4 with a 3.05 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, marking the third straight season where he posted those numbers or better. Once again, Woodruff flirted with the 200-strikeout mark in 2022, a skill he continues to develop as he enters his thirties.
2022 marked the fifth straight season that Woodruff posted a K% north of 26% and whiff% above 25%, which speaks to his ability to retire hitters via punchout. In this contest, we’re going to target this ability and take the Over on his strikeout prop at 6.5.
While Chicago only struck out five times on Opening Day, there’s reason to believe Woodruff will deliver a more successful performance. Over his past nine starts against the Cubs, Woodruff is 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Across 109 career plate appearances against Woodruff, this current Chicago roster possesses a troubling 29.4 K% and 28 whiff%. The Cubs had a busy offseason, bringing in a revamped new lineup with the acquisitions of Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini, and Eric Hosmer.
However, outside of Hosmer, those guys are only going to further Chicago’s strikeout problem. In 2022, the Cubs ranked just 22nd in the league in K% when facing right-handed pitching.
Last season, Swanson, Bellinger, and Mancini all possessed a K% north of 23%. In fact, looking at the projected lineup for Saturday’s game, seven of the nine hitters posted a K% north of that figure in 2022.
My best bet: Brandon Woodruff Over 6.5 Strikeouts (-125)
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Brewers vs Cubs moneyline analysis
I would lean towards the Brewers moneyline in this contest, but would rather just back Woodruff than a Milwaukee lineup that’s completely untrustworthy. Milwaukee’s biggest edge in this contest is the starting pitching, which is the reason that it’s favored and why I would rather just back the pitcher himself.
On the other side, left-hander Justin Steele is slated to take the mound for the Cubs. The 27-year-old has been "good not great” since making his debut in 2021, going 8-11 with a 3.53 ERA and 1.35 WHIP.
After getting shut out on Opening Day, one would think the Brewers lineup comes out with a bit more fire on Saturday. Granted, that’s purely conjecture and this batting order cannot be trusted as currently aligned.
Brewers vs Cubs Over/Under analysis
I would also lean towards the Under in this contest, but do not love the number at 7. You know what you’re getting from Woodruff, a two-time All-Star and one of the most consistent starting pitchers in baseball.
However, more questions arise regarding Steele. He should be able to take advantage of a weak Brewers lineup, especially considering that he ranked in the 80th percentile or higher in HardHit%, xSLG, and barrel% in 2022.
With that said, he has issues with his command. In 2022, Steele ranked in the 35th percentile or lower in BB%, whiff%, and chase rate. If I had to pick a total, the factor to solidy taking the Under is the fact that the forecast calls for 20-25 MPH winds blowing in from left-center, although I would still just rather back Woodruff alone.
Brewers vs Cubs game info
|Location:||Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL|
|Date:||Saturday, April 1, 2023|
|First pitch:||2:20 p.m. ET|
|TV:||Bally Wisconsin, Marquee|
Brewers vs Cubs betting preview
Brandon Woodruff (0-0, 0.00 ERA): Arguably the best “No. 2” in baseball, Woodruff will look to put together yet another dominant season on the mound. In 2022, Woodruff ranked in the 70th percentile or higher in xERA/xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, K%, Whiff%, and Chase Rate. He does an excellent job mixing his pitches and keeping hitters honest, not throwing any of his five pitches more than 39% of the time.
Justin Steele (0-0, 0.00 ERA): Steele is an interesting left-hander to keep an eye on this season. Possessing a devastating slider that is set up from constantly pumping the fastball, Steele does a tremendous job in preventing hitters from the long ball. However, his command continues to raise questions, ranking in the 35th percentile or lower in BB%, Whiff%, and Chase Rate in 2022.
Trend to know
Woodruff recorded at least seven strikeouts in seven of his last 10 regular season starts in 2022. Find more MLB betting trends for Brewers vs. Cubs