While four teams get the Major League Baseball season started Thursday, Friday features a full docket of games as the rest of the league gets underway. Excitement will be high as baseball is finally back in a shortened season.
One game on Friday is an NL Central rivalry as the Milwaukee Brewers travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET.
Both of these teams will look to get out to a quick start as the NL Central should be very competitive this season. Most teams, with possibly the exception of the Pirates, might be able to make a legitimate claim to the division title. For Friday’s game, the Brewers will be sending out right Brandon Woodruff to the mound to square off with the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks.
According to FanDuel.com, the moneyline for this matchup features the Milwaukee Brewers at +114 and the Chicago Cubs at -130. The over/under on runs scored is set at 8.5. The spread is +1.5 for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Brewers Looking To Prove Naysayers Wrong
After an offseason where the Brewers lost more talent than they gained on paper, many have written them off as non-contenders in the NL Central this year. With the likes of Christian Yelich in their lineup, though, I think they can still be a very tough team to beat.
Last season, Yelich hit .329/.429/.671 with 44 home runs, 97 runs batted in, 100 runs scored and 30 stolen bases in just 489 at-bats. Fully healthy to start this season, Yelich should be primed for another fantastic season.
No person may benefit more from the universal designated hitter this year than Ryan Braun. Last year, the 36-year-old hit .285/.343/.505 with 22 home runs, 75 runs batted in, 70 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in 459 at-bats.
On the mound Friday will be righty Brandon Woodruff. Last season, Woodruff went 11-3 in 22 starts. Over that span, he had a 3.62 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and struck out 143 in 121 2/3 innings.
Cubs Looking To Not Waste Their Window
The Chicago Cubs certainly have the core of position players that could win a championship, but with some of those players becoming increasingly expensive, their window could be closing.
One of the most important players for the Cubs this season will be Kris Bryant. Last year he hit .282/.382/.521 with 31 home runs, 77 runs batted in and 108 runs scored. Another solid season will be big for the Cubs’ success.
Another player the Cubs are banking on a big season from is Javier Baez. Last season, Baez hit .281/.316/.531 with 29 home runs, 85 runs batted in, 89 runs scored and 11 stolen bases.
On the mound Friday will be right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Last season, Hendricks was 11-10 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and struck out 150 in 177 innings pitched. While the offense could be potent, the Cubs need their pitching staff to step up for them to have a successful season this year.
Taking The Brewers On Opening Day
Unlike any other day, it always seems that on Opening Day, you can expect the unexpected. With a shortened spring training 2.0, that message probably only intensifies. While I do like the Cubs this season, many seem to have forgotten how successful the Brewers have been lately.
While the Brewers did suffer some significant losses over the offseason, like losing Yasmani Grandal at catcher, they still have one of the best players in the game in Christian Yelich and one of the best bullpens, led by southpaw Josh Hader.
With all of that in mind, I think the Brewers can still be a tough team to beat, and, with that, I am taking them at +114 in this one. If betting the spread, I also like them getting 1.5 runs, but the value isn’t quite as nice at -186.