Among the Saturday slate is an NL Central matchup between the third-place Chicago Cubs and fifth-place Cincinnati Reds.
This contest is the second installment of a three-game series, with Cincinnati winning the first matchup 9-0.
Will the Reds take care of business once again, or can the Cubs enact their revenge on their home diamond? Find out in our free MLB picks and predictions below.
Reds vs Cubs odds
Reds vs Cubs predictions
Slated to take the mound for the Cincinnati Reds is left-hander Brandon Williamson, who should be an excellent candidate to back in the strikeout department. The rookie hurler out of TCU is off to a decent start in his career, albeit in a very small sample size.
Through 10 innings pitched, he possesses a 3.60 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. In his debut, he survived a dangerous Coors Field environment, allowing just one earned run on two hits through 5 2/3 innings against the Rockies.
He accumulated six strikeouts in that contest, a result we could see once again in this matchup. Over those 10 innings pitched, Williamson boasts a 22 strikeout rate and 24.6 Whiff%.
Boasting a five-pitch arsenal, Williamson routinely pumps his fastball and cutter to set up his slider and changeup, two pitches which each already boast a Whiff% north of 28%. These pitches should work well against the Chicago Cubs, a strikeout-prone team.
The Cubs revamped their roster while making several key offseason additions, most notably adding Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, Trey Mancini, and Eric Hosmer. However, that group will only add to Chicago’s strikeout problem, granted Bellinger will miss this game due to injury.
In 2022, the Cubs ranked 23rd in the league in K% when facing left-handed pitching, with Swanson and Mancini finishing with a K% north of 23% in 2022.
Predictably, Chicago currently ranks 26th in MLB in K% when facing left-handers this season. Looking at Saturday’s projected lineup, seven of the nine hitters possess a K% north of 22%.
These strikeout woes could continue against Williamson, a guy that no one in this lineup has seen on the mound prior to tonight’s game.
My best bet: Brandon Williamson Over 4.5 strikeouts (-105)
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Reds vs Cubs moneyline analysis
I would lean toward the Reds on the moneyline in this contest but am not confident enough to pull the trigger. However, I don't trust Cincinnati’s hitting whatsoever.
This season, the Reds rank 21st or lower in the league in SLG, OPS, and home runs. Granted, they're going against right-hander Jameson Taillon, who is terrible.
Through seven starts this season, Taillon is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. His underlying metrics suggest that positive regression is unlikely.
Currently, the right-hander ranks in the 11th percentile or lower in xERA/xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel%.
Reds vs Cubs Over/Under analysis
I would also lean towards the Over in this contest but do not feel confident one way or the other. While Williamson has looked strong in his small sample size, it's too early to tell what caliber of pitcher he is.
Additionally, his underlying metrics through those 10 innings are not the strongest. Entering Saturday, he possesses a .270 xBA, .387 xwOBA, and .517 xSLG.
Not only are we unsure of what to expect from Williamson, but I don't trust either of these lineups. While the strikeouts could come in bunches, there is still some solid talent on each roster despite the poor hitting stats.
Reds vs Cubs game info
|Location:||Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL|
|Date:||Saturday, May 27, 2023|
|First pitch:||7:15 p.m. ET|
Brandon Williamson (0-0, 3.60 ERA): Making just his third start in the Big Leagues, Williamson looks to build upon the solid foundation he has created. In his debut, he shut down the Rockies in a tough Coors Field environment, allowing just one run on two hits through 5 2/3 innings. He followed that up with a decent performance against the Cardinals, allowing three runs on four hits through 4 1/3 innings pitched.
Jameson Taillon (0-3, 8.10 ERA): It has been a disastrous start to 2023 for Taillon, who is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA and 1.72 WHIP through seven starts. His underlying metrics suggest that positive regression is unlikely, ranking in the 11th percentile or lower in xERA/xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel%. He has gotten torched in four straight starts and we should not expect anything different moving forward.
Trend to know
Opposing starting pitchers have racked up 5+ strikeouts in four of the past six games against the Cubs. Find more MLB betting trends for Reds vs. Cubs