The Milwaukee Brewers (11-7) are on the road to face the Chicago Cubs (9-9) for the first of three games on Friday, and for the 10th time this season. The Brewers have had the upper hand so far, winning four of six matchups between the National League Central foes (including two of three during opening weekend at Wrigley Field). Both teams entering on three-game hot streaks, as the Milwaukee just swept the Padres on the road and Chicago just swept the Mets at home.
Free Picks: Milwaukee Brewers vs Chicago Cubs
Hendricks, struggling like never before, tries to right himself (again) vs. Brewers
Earlier in his career, Chicago Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks earned the nickname, “The Professor,” for his Ivy League education, but it’d be fair to apply it to his generally calm demeanor on the mound as well. As a guy who’s never had a season with an ERA above 4.00, though, maybe we haven’t been able to properly test that calmness under more trying conditions. Well, not until now, anyway.
Hendricks has a 6.92 ERA through three starts (13 innings) this season, yielding a National League-high five home runs along the way. He’s also issued seven walks, more than he allowed in his first 10 starts last season en route to the lowest walk rate in the major leagues (0.9 walks per nine innings).
Given these early struggles, you might be surprised to see Hendricks and the Cubs as -164 money line favorites (10Bet) among Friday’s MLB picks. But look closer, and you’ll notice that Hendricks is the very pitcher the Cubs should want on the mound in this matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers.
As a whole, Hendricks’s early season numbers are bad. But understand that the sample size is tiny, and that it’s not a very fair representation of how he’s pitched so far. Here’s a quick breakdown of the veteran right-hander’s three starts: three runs allowed in a three-inning loss; zero runs allowed in a six-inning no-decision; seven runs allowed in a four-inning loss. In other words, he’s had a bad start, an excellent start and a disastrous start. Quite the mixed bag!
It might interest you to know that Hendricks’s great start came against … drum roll … the Brewers. The Cubs did lose that game, 4-2, but it was certainly no fault of Hendricks. In fact, he usually puts the Cubs in position to beat the Brewers, logging a 2.72 ERA against them in 24 career starts, his lowest ERA against any team he’s faced at least 10 times.
Hendricks only affects one side of the ball, though, and it’ll be up to the Cubs’ offense to put up a respectable outing on their end as well. The Cubs have been all over the place from a run scoring standpoint lately, with the following run totals in their past five games: 4, 16, 3, 4, 13.
In six games against the Brewers so far this season, the Cubs have only won twice and only reached the five-run plateau once. On the bright side, the accomplished both of those things against Brewers starter Brett Anderson, who’ll be on the mound Friday. So we’ll take “The Professor” and the Cubs in this one for our BetPicks prediction.
- Chicago is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
- The UNDER has cashed in five of the Cubs’ past nine games
- Milwaukee is 6-4 on the money line in its past 10
- The UNDER has cashed in six of the Brewers’ past nine games
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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).