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The Chicago Cubs (58-40) will try to win consecutive games
MLB All-Star break on Monday when they host the Arizona Diamondbacks (54-46). The Cubs alternated wins and losses in a five-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals going back to last Thursday that also included a doubleheader split at Wrigley Field on Saturday.MLB betting line: The Diamondbacks opened as -120 favorites (wager $120 to win $100); the total is at nine runs Melky Cabrera Jersey , according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)MLB betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 5.4-2.2, Diamondbacks (MLB picks on every game)Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or at OddsShark.libsyn.com for more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week?? top sports betting news.Why the Diamondbacks can pay on the MLB linesThe Diamondbacks avoided being swept at home by the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, earning a 6-1 victory thanks to ace Zack Greinke. Arizona ended Colorado's seven-game winning streak and moved back into second place behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.The Diamondbacks will now send southpaw Patrick Corbin (6-4, 3.24 ERA) to the mound looking for his first win since June 5. Corbin is 0-2 in seven starts since then with five no-decisions, two of which came away from home. The 29-year-old has been very good on the road this season, going 2-1 in nine outings with a 2.89 ERA.Why the Cubs can pay on the MLB linesChicago extended its winning streak to four games with a 9-6 victory in the series opener against St. Louis. The Cubs also closed out the series against the Cardinals with a 7-2 win on Sunday behind seven solid innings from pitcher Jose Quintana, who allowed two runs and six hits with four walks and six strikeouts on 121 pitches. It was a much-needed quality start for Chicago in a series that saw 65 total runs scored.Next up in the rotation is converted reliever Luke Farrell (3-3, 3.86), who has made just one start for the Cubs this season. That came back on June 23 when he surrendered three runs on two hits and two walks in 2.2 innings of an 11-2 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds. However, that remains the only time he has given up more than two earned runs this year.Smart betting pickArizona definitely has an edge in the pitching matchup, due mostly to Farrell's inexperience as a starter and Corbin's success on the road. The Diamondbacks have also won three of the past five meetings, according to the OddsShark MLB Database, including the last two at Wrigley Field. Before that, Chicago had won nine of the previous 11 in the series, so take Arizona to pull off the upset in the series opener.MLB betting trendsThe total has gone UNDER in five of Arizona's last seven games.Arizona is 14-5 in its last 19 games on the road.Chi Cubs is 12-3 in its last 15 games at home.All MLB odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report?? official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app. Through the grapevine has come a hint that the designated hitter may become a universal reality in Major League Baseball in the not-too-distant future.Hurry up. Oh, for the love of David Ortiz Jeff Keppinger Jersey , Edgar Martinez and Frank Thomas, please hurry up.Per Ken Rosenthalof The Athletic andJeff Passanof ESPN, the MLB Players Association has been pushing for the DH??hich has been saving American League pitchers from hitting for themselves since 1973??o come to the National League for the 2019 season.With pitchers and catchers due to report for spring training next week, it's probably a bit late to adapt such a seismic change for the coming season. The same goes for some of the other big ideas (e.g., a 20-second pitch clock and a three-batter minimum for pitchers) being kicked around by the MLB and the MLBPA.Still, it's significant that the concept of a universal DH is being pushed by the players. At last check, it was the owners who were doing the pushing."I think that is a continuing source of conversation among the ownership group, and I think that the dialogue actually probably moved a little bit," MLB commission Rob Manfred told reporterslast June.As far as baseball fans are concerned, this is where the bickering begins.Anyone who's pro-DH is most likely an American League fan with fond memories of the great sluggers who've called the position home over the last 46 years. Anyone who's anti-DH is most likely a National League fan who much prefers the bunts, double switches and other strategic elements that come hand-in-hand with pitchers hitting for themselves.Others, presumably, just can't bear to leave behind the #PitchersWhoRake lifestyle. This group includes at least one actual pitcher who rakes:Noah Syndergaard NoahsyndergaardUniversal DH?!?!? qNLnKHFAS6No matter your preference, you're not wrong. That's the thing about preferences; they're nice and subjective.But if we're going to shift this discussion over to what's best for baseball, a fundamental problem with the anti-DH position arises. Once you get past "Because I like it," there aren't many objective arguments in favor of pitchers hitting for themselves.The big one in favor of a universal DH is that pitchers are insultingly bad at hitting.This was true even as far back as the 1800s, when an article inSporting Life(h/t SABR's John Cronin) posited: "Every patron of the game is conversant with the utter worthlessness of the average pitcher when he goes up to try to hit the ball."Here's a graph that shows it's only been getting worse since the AL and NL started rubbing elbows in 1901:The central statistic here is a FanGraphs specialty called "weighted runs created plus," which measures total offensive value in relation to the league average of 100.As that blue line shows, pitchers weren't close to league-average hitters to begin with. By the time the AL adopted the DH in 1973 http://www.whitesoxfanproshop.com/authentic-paul-konerko-jersey , they were already barreling toward zero. Now they're at a point where even a 0 wRC+ would be a feat worthy of champagne and trip to Disneyland.The trouble is, pitchers aren't trained to hit anymore. The DH is a staple of organized baseball in high school, college and the minor leagues. Only the National League is holding out.Jacob deGrom is not made for hitting.David Banks/Getty ImagesThis could have changed as far back as 1980. In August of that year, representatives from the 12 National League clubs convened to hold a vote on whether to adapt the DH. The idea was rejected 5-4 with three abstentions, yetthat marked notable progress toward a universal DH."I'm not surprised at today's vote," NL President Chub Feeney said at the time, per theAssociated Press."It's gotten fairly close from time to time, but it fluctuates. The vote was 10-2 the last time we took it, about a year ago."In the ensuing years, however, the NL and MLB as a whole had bigger fish to fry. Such as:colluding against free agentsin the 1980s, getting in and out of multiple work stoppages between 1980 and 1995 and cleaning up after the steroid erain the mid-2000s.Nowadays, however, a universal DH can help MLB with two of its biggest challenges: livening up games and preventing the first work stoppage in a quarter of a century.Strikeouts have been going up for years, and that there were more strikeouts than hits in 2018 is a dire warning that balls in play can't make a comeback on their own.Which brings us to another graph:The strikeout rate has been higher in the National League, but not because the NL's actual hitters are more prone to punchouts than AL hitters. As the yellow dotted line shows, hitters from both leagues tend to have roughly the same strikeout rate. The problem, naturally, is the pitchers.It wouldn't reverse it James Shields Jersey , but letting real hitters bat for pitchers in the NL would help stem the growth of MLB's strikeout rate, thereby reintroducing some action into games.If anyone's worried about this potentially leading to longer days at the ballpark, well, don't. Carl Bialik of FiveThirtyEight looked into that in 2014 and didn't find anything.As to the work-stoppage threat??hich Rosenthal reported is "palpable"??utting the DH in the National League would theoretically make it easier for players to regain some of the riches that owners have been hoarding in recent offseasons.The number of clubs with a safety blanket for aging sluggers would double. That could lead to stronger markets not only for the likes of Nelson Cruz, but for super-long-term investments such as the Bryce Harpers and Manny Machados of this world.Younger sluggers could also benefit, as there would be more job openings for bat-only prospects (e.g., New York Mets slugger Peter Alonso).Further, neither NL clubs nor AL clubs visiting NL parks would have to worry any longer about pitchers getting hurt doing things other than pitching. Maybe it wouldn't have a huge impact in the long run, but that would be one less hurdle in between pitchers and good paydays.Beyond the allegedly entertaining strategic elements of NL-style ball, the biggest casualty of a universal DH would be the end of any true differentiation between MLB's two leagues. But since this "casualty" would nix unfair advantages for one league or the other in interleague games and the World Series, the mourning period would be brief.As hinted at by that oneSporting Life quote from the 1891, the DH was a good idea long before it officially came into being in 1973. At this juncture, it's never looked more like a necessary idea.So, again, please hurry up. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.
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