Cy Young Showdown: Arrieta vs. Scherzer

Cy Young Showdown: Arrieta vs. Scherzer

Tonight in Washington, the scuffling World Series champion Cubs take on the high powered Nationals, who already have a stranglehold on the NL East. More importantly, the past two NL Cy Young winners are facing off, which is a rarity.

How are bettors treating this pitcher’s duel?

The first thing to note is that the Nationals are currently -175, while the Cubs are +161. Over the past two seasons, this is an unheard of line for the Cubbies. They’ve only closed as underdogs 21 times since the start of 2016 and have never closed higher than +145 (in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw). If this line holds up, it will be the largest dog they have been since August 2015, when they closed at +218 (also in Los Angeles against Kershaw).

It isn’t that surprising, though. Scherzer is pitching like he wants more hardware in his trophy case while Arrieta is far from his 2015 level of dominance. Also, the Nationals lineup is basically playing like Murderer’s Row and almost every Cub hitter isn’t living up to expectations. Add all of these ingredients up and you see why the Cubs are +161.

At the moment, bettors have a case of the recency bias and are heavily leaning on the Nats. They are currently getting 69% of bets and 85% of dollars, which explains how the Nationals have gone from -168 to -175 since opening.

If we look a bit closer, it appears that some sharper bettors are on the Cubs…or at least they were earlier. This morning, a profitable reverse line movement triggered by 5Dimes helped move the Cubs line from +152 to +143. Since then, the line has crawled all the way back to where we sit right now.

If we look at the book-by-book betting breakdown, the “sharper” books like 5Dimes and BetDSI are much more evenly split than the square books, which are seeing tons of bets on the Nationals.

Many of bettors and baseball fans have been waiting for the Cubs to turn a corner this season. Beating perhaps the best pitcher in the game right now would certainly be a step in the right direction.

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Mark Gallant

I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.

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