Cubs vs Braves Betting On the MLB Odds, Analysis and Prediction

Cubs vs Braves Betting On the MLB Odds, Analysis and Prediction

It’s a possible National League playoff preview and a big stage for NL Rookie of the Year favorite Shota Imanaga of the Chicago Cubs on Monday as they visit the Atlanta Braves to open a series. The Braves are favored on the MLB odds behind Reynaldo Lopez.

Atlanta and Chicago have an equal amount of wins at the moment, so this series could catapult both teams into an eventual first place in the Standings, depending on who wins the Series.

Bet On MLB Picks Braves -150, Cubs +130 (total 8)
Expert Prediction Braves 4, Cubs 3
 

Chicago Cubs Moneyline +111

The Cubs won 5-4 in 10 innings in Pittsburgh on Sunday to take two of three in the series. Cody Bellinger hit a go-ahead single before Patrick Wisdom added insurance with a home run in the 10th inning for Chicago. Bellinger led off by dribbling a ball through the left side of the infield off Aroldis Chapman, scoring automatic runner Seiya Suzuki before getting caught in a rundown between first and second. Wisdom drove a two-out sinker, the seventh pitch of the at-bat, 412 feet into the center-field bushes.

“It’s a testament to the resiliency and, I think, the consistency of our team,” Wisdom said. “But also in the lineup, putting together good at-bats, hitting the ball hard, not letting the hard-hit balls that are caught discourage us. … Knowing guys are going to start scoring. It’s just a matter of time.”

Adbert Alzolay allowed one run in one inning while securing his fourth save. Hector Neris threw the ninth inning in a tie game and didn’t allow a run despite allowing two hits and walking one. Alzolay followed in the 10th and allowed a home run to Connor Joe that scored two, including the extra runner. Alzolay opened the season as the closer but then lost the job. Maybe he has it back now.

NL Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Busch got the day off with Wisdom starting for him. It was simply a matchup decision by manager Craig Counsell as t6he lefty-hitting Busch had started each of the Cubs’ first 10 games of May. Cubs manager Craig Counsell told reporters Sunday that Hayden Wesneski will be available out of the bullpen for the series against Atlanta. Wesneski has pitched well in his last three starts with a 2.20 ERA.

It’s stellar rookie lefty Shota Imanaga for the Cubs on the hill and the 30-year-old is the NL Rookie of the Year betting favorite as he should be at 5-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Imanaga didn’t factor into the decision last Tuesday against San Diego, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk across seven innings. He struck out eight.

Imanaga allowed more than five hits for the first time this season and tied his season-high earned-run total, but it was hardly a disappointing start. He blanked the Padres through seven innings but allowed an infield single to Luis Arraez and a home run to Jurickson Profar in the eighth before being pulled. Imanaga has fanned seven or more batters in three straight starts, and the Cubs are 7-0 overall in his starts.

His 1.08 ERA (5 ER/41.2 IP) through the first seven starts of his career is the fourth-lowest through seven starts by any major league pitcher since 1912. He is the first Cubs starting pitcher since 1901 to begin his career with seven straight starts of two earned runs or fewer. It’s Imanaga’s first-ever look at the Braves.

In an era where nearly two-thirds of starters throw non-fastballs a majority of the time, Imanaga’s 58.4% usage (91st percentile) stands out. That fastball has been the best individual pitch in baseball by run value, beating out Corbin Burnes’ cutter and Tyler Glasnow’s fastball. But while the other heaters at the top of this list sit in the mid- to upper-90s, Imanaga’s four-seamer averages just 92 mph.

Because of its low release point and high carry, Imanaga’s four-seamer has the third-shallowest vertical approach angle in MLB, creating the deception that causes batters to swing under it with surprising frequency. Its 12.5% swinging strike rate and 22.1% putaway rate by far exceed the league averages of 10.3% and 17.9%, respectively, as he’s able to throw it for a whiff in any count.

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Atlanta Braves Moneyline -154

Perhaps a minor disadvantage for Atlanta in that it had to play Sunday night at the Mets and then travel back home. The Cubs certainly beat them there after playing Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. No. 1 Braves catcher Travis D’Arnaud didn’t start Sunday. He’s gone 4-for-18 in May but has registered a hit in each of his last straight games. I’d expect him back Monday.

On the season, just 36.1% of Atlanta’s runs have come via homer, the 18th-highest percentage in the league. Last year, the Braves plated a majors-most 51.7% of their runs from the homer. Atlanta is 18-6 (.750) this season when it homers, and 117-51 (.696) when doing so since the start of last season. The club is just 11-19 (.367) without a homer in that span.

In the Braves’ last 25 games, their 2.78 ERA (70 ER/226.1 IP) is third best in baseball behind just the Dodgers (2.55) and Mariners (2.65). Atlanta is allowing just 3.00 runs per game in that span. The Braves’ starting staff since that date has pitched to a 2.84 ERA, fourth best in baseball, while the bullpen owns a 2.68 mark, also fourth lowest. Atlanta has nine series wins on the season.

It’s righty and converted reliever Reynaldo Lopez (2-1) on the mound Monday. Lopez came away with a no-decision in last 4-2 win over the Red Sox, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and four walks over 5.1 innings. He struck out five. The four free passes were a season high for Lopez, who tossed 54 of 91 pitches for strikes. He has failed to last six innings in either of his last two outings after beginning the season with four straight quality starts, but he still sports a 1.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 36:14 K:BB through 35.1 innings.

This season, Lopez has worked his curveball into heavy rotation against lefty hitters. Lopez is not faring that well generally against lefties overall as his.317 opponent wOBA is his highest mark since the last time he was in the rotation, and he’s walking 15.6% of the left-handed hitters he’s faced. But that’s not his curveball’s fault. López has thrown 14 changeups this year, all to lefties. Four of them have been put in play, and of those, two have gone over the fence — the only two home runs he’s allowed in six starts. His curveball, by contrast, has been a weapon.

Opponents are hitting .130 and slugging .152 against the slider, with a whiff rate of 46.2%. Chris Sale and Dylan Cease are no. 1 and 2 in Baseball Savant’s slider run value leaderboard, but Lopez is getting more swings and misses than either of them.

Lopez was signed to a three-year deal in November with the intent of turning him back into a starting pitcher. The 30-year-old right-hander exceeded 180 innings with the White Sox in 2018 and ‘19 but had spent much of the past three seasons pitching in relief for the White Sox, Angels and Guardians. After winning a rotation spot in Spring Training, Lopez has thrived in his return to starting.

“He’s definitely exceeded expectations,” president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said of Lopez. “If we thought he was going to do this, there wouldn’t have been a competition in spring. … We knew his floor was a really good reliever, but the fact that he had back-to-back years of 32 and 33 starts, 184 [and] 188 innings, we knew that the durability piece was there.”

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Cubs at Braves Info

When: Monday, 7:20 PM ET
Where: Truist Park
Pitchers (away/home): Shota Imanaga/Reynaldo Lopez
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/  

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