Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Friday's Best Bet

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Friday MLB Betting Preview (7:10 p.m. ET)
Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds

The Cubs kept the hot bats rolling last night with a 12-5 win over Cincinnati, as it was the second straight game they scored in double-digits. Chicago went out and got Nicholas Castellanos at the trade deadline to help their lineup against left-handed pitching, and he had a big impact yesterday, hitting two HR's (one off lefty starter Alex Wood) and Chicago fans are hoping they see plenty more of that from him over the next few months.

For the Reds, the loss halted a three-game winning streak that they had going, but the high-scoring game also made it five straight 'overs' cashing for this team. Cincinnati has been an 'under' team all year long and are still 44-66 O/U on the year, but this brief run of 'overs' has the betting market intrigued.

Tonight we get a pitching matchup of Yu Darvish vs Trevor Bauer as a pair of former AL studs do battle on the senior circuit, with Chicago as a slight favorite again. Will Chicago go up 2-0 in this series? Will the 'over' runs for both teams continue?

MLB Odds: Chicago (-113) vs Cincinnati (+103); Total set at 9

Last night's 'over' cashing made it a 4-0-1 O/U run for Chicago against the closing line, although for most of the day during that 10-1 push vs Oakland on Wednesday, 10.5's were readily available. It's now a full time through their rotation of these 'overs' hitting, the same thing for the Reds, as each of their respective runs started with Darvish and Bauer on the hill.

In Darvish's case, he did little wrong to hit that 'over' as he had five solid innings of work in a 7-2 SU win over Milwaukee in his last outing. It's largely been the Cubs bats – who've scored at least 6 runs in four of their last five games – who are responsible for this 'over' run, and two straight days of putting up 10 or more, thanks in large part to the HR ball, is tough to ignore. The weather (wind blowing out) was conducive to good hitting though, although you can't fault the Cubs for taking advantage of the situation.

In Bauer's case, he just made a couple of mistakes that got punished in his first start with his new team, but the Reds would prefer to get more then 4.2 innings of work out of him. The 2019 season may be a longshot in terms of playoff potential for Cincinnati, but the move to bring in Bauer had the bigger picture in mind. With him, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo being the anchors of this rotation for the foreseeable future, there is reason to be hopeful as a Reds fan going forward. They are hoping that they can catch glimpses of that future in Bauer's starts over these final few months of the year, and slowing down this red-hot Cubs offense would be a great start in that regard.

There is good news on that front too for the Reds tonight, as while this may be Bauer's first time facing Chicago this year, he's not that estranged from seeing them during his time with Cleveland. Obviously there was the Cubs/Indians World Series matchup in 2016 that didn't go particularly well for Bauer – Cleveland lost both games by 5-1 and 3-2 scores – but the leash is also much shorter for starters these days in late-October, and the fact that he didn't last more then four innings in either of those outings isn't a huge deal.

Last season, Bauer and the Indians squared off against the Cubs twice and both times it was Bauer who was at his best. Cleveland won the games 4-1 and 10-1, Bauer lasted at least six innings in both, didn't allow a HR in either start, and only gave up one of the two runs against. If that's the version of Bauer the Reds get tonight, Cincinnati as a home dog is probably worth a look.

But don't sleep on Darvish not being up to the task of pitching well either, as he's really gotten into a groove in his post-All Star break starts, with the Cubs going 3-2 SU overall, and Darvish going at least six innings in four of the five outings. Four of those five starts have also seen Cubs foes score three runs or less against Chicago, and with the Cubs on a 3-10 O/U run in division games right now, this game could buck the recent trend on both sides and quickly turn into a pitcher's duel.

I believe that will be the case, as it's easier to trust the long term 'under' numbers for the Reds against a five-game hot stretch of 'overs' for them. Bauer appeared to really force things in an effort to impress his new team, and now that that debut is behind him, I do expect him to settle in rather early.

Chicago is still on a 2-6 O/U run on the road themselves, and four of the last five times Darvish has started with just four days off inbetween starts the 'under' has cashed as well. It's easy to look at the 22 runs the Cubs have scored the past two days and expect it to continue, but the wind blowing out won't be nearly as favorable as it was for those games, and the fact that the betting percentage numbers on VegasInsider.com currently show nearly 80% of the action on the high side of this total and the number hasn't budged is telling. If anything it's getting juicier to take the 'under' here, and that's the position I've got to take.

Best Bet: Under 9 runs

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