The Milwaukee Brewers (81-72) will try to take a positive step toward the top of the National League Central when they host the Chicago Cubs (85-67) on Friday in the second of four games at Miller Park as small home underdogs.
The Brewers blew a late 3-2 lead in the series opener on Thursday, falling 5-3 in 10 innings, but they have still won three of the past four meetings.
Betting line: The Cubs opened as -128 favorites (wager $128 to win $100 the total is at nine runs, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Why the Cubs can pay on the MLB lines
Chicago has stayed in control of the NL Central for most of the second half of the season by playing consistently well, something the team did not do in the first half.
The Cubs have not lost more than three in a row since the MLB All-Star break, and their starting pitching has performed much better lately to keep them atop the division.
Veteran righty John Lackey (11-11, 4.62 ERA) has been one of the pitchers who has stepped up during that stretch, with Chicago going 10-2 in his last 12 starts.
Why the Brewers can pay on the MLB lines
Milwaukee has been able to stay within striking distance of first place due to solid starting pitching as well, and rookie Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.28) has been a pleasant surprise.
The 24-year-old has made just six starts this season, but he has been a key cog in the rotation over the last two months.
Woodruff earned his second win last time out on the road against the Miami Marlins, allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 10-3 victory with no walks and five strikeouts.
In fact, in the three games the Brewers have lost in which he has started, they have totaled only two combined runs.
Smart betting pick
Lackey has not been nearly as good on the road this year, going 7-6 with a 5.38 ERA. He is also just 4-8 with a 4.95 ERA at night and 1-2 versus Milwaukee this season with a 3.79 ERA. Woodruff has never faced the Cubs, which should work in his favor here.
While the World Series champions have more experience in these kinds of situations, this is a more favorable matchup for the home team. Take the Brewers to pull off the small upset and bounce back with a big victory.
MLB betting trends
Chicago is 8-1 in its last nine games.
The total has gone under in four of Chicago's last six games on the road.
The total has gone under in six of Milwaukee's last seven games at home.
All MLB odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.