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Bryan Leonard | MLB Money LineFree pick955 CHC (+120) Bookmaker.com vs 956 CINAnalysis:
955 Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati
The Cubs and Reds renew their NL Central rivalry on Monday night at Great American Ball Park with a matchup of right-handers. It'll be Jeff Samardzija for the Cubs going up against Alfredo Simon for the Reds.
If you look at pitchers that are seriously overachieving, Alfredo Simon is clearly near the top of the list. Simon has a BABIP against of .190, despite a strikeout rate of just 15.5 percent. He's stranding nearly 91 percent of his runners and that will not continue for a pitcher with a below average strikeout rate. Simon has a 1.30 ERA but a 3.88 FIP and a 4.33 xFIP. His SIERA of 4.38 also signals regression on the horizon. The Cubs aren't a great offense, but all it takes are ground balls finding holes against Simon and the Cubs are an above average base running team.
Besides the statistics that show regression, Simon has an off-field distraction to tend to. Reports came out on Sunday that a woman has filed a civil suit against Simon regarding a past incident involving alleged sexual assault. A guy like Simon with a mediocre arsenal that is a converted reliever due to the Mat Latos injury cannot afford to have a lack of focus. Between the advanced metrics and the distractions, the Cubs stand a good chance of providing Samardzija with some run support.
Jeff Samardzija has traded strikeouts for ground balls so far this season, but he's still one of the most underappreciated arms in baseball. The Reds have averaged three runs per game over their last seven games. Samardzija has adopted more of a pitch-to-contact approach to allow himself to work deeper into games as he has traded some four-seam fastballs in for two-seamers. That change was beneficial against the Reds in his last start and should be again here against a struggling offense. While Samardzija is striking out fewer batters, he's also walking fewer and is trending positively in home runs allowed.
We'll trust in the advanced metrics and expect Simon's regression to start here and look for another fine outing from Samardzija.
PLAY: CHICAGO CUBS
Our Chicago/Cincinnati game from yesterday was rained out. It's scheduled to be played again today with the same pitching matchup. We released that play yesterday at +135 and the game really moved before being postponed. We project the line to open about where it closed yesterday in the +120 range. That loss of 15 cents drops that play from a 2* selection to a Free Play.
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