The lone national TV game around Major League Baseball on Thursday features the Chicago Cubs closing their series at the Atlanta Braves, who are sizable favorites on the MLB odds against a former Braves pitcher.
How to Bet Cubs at Braves MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Thursday, 7:20 PM ET
- Where: Truist Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Drew Smyly/Kyle Wright
- TV: MLB Network
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: Braves -175, Cubs +165 (total 8.5)
Why Bet on Chicago?
The Cubs were hoping to see the season debut of new shortstop Andrelton Simmons by now, but that won’t be happening anytime soon. Simmons has been slowed down in his rehabilitation process after experiencing renewed soreness in his shoulder. Simmons has still been throwing and is scheduled to take live batting practice next week, but there remains no timetable for his return. Nico Hoerner will continue to serve as the Cubs’ everyday shortstop.
Jonathan Villar owns a .304 average (34-for-112) with nine doubles, four homers, nine RBI, 14 walks and a .378 on-base percentage in 34 career games against the Braves. Willson Contreras owns a .289 career average (24-for-83) with eight homers and 23 RBI in 23 games against Atlanta.
Chicago’s bullpen has been a strength. In the team’s last eight games, the bullpen has a 1.14 ERA and a .529 opponent OPS to go along with a .185 opponent batting average. Chicago’s 2.47 ERA from its relievers is the fourth-best mark in the majors behind the Giants (1.70), Dodgers (2.22) and Tigers (2.22).
It’s lefty and former Brave Drew Smyly (1-1, 2.45) on the mound for this one. Smyly wasn’t at his best in last Friday’s loss to the Pirates, giving up four runs on six hits over his five innings. Smyly walked one and struck out four. Roberto Perez was responsible for most of the damage done against him, with a two-run single in the second inning and a solo shot in the fifth. Smyly generated 11 swings and misses in the contest while registering a CSW of 27 percent.
Smyly will make his third career appearance (second start) against his former team. He owns a 5.79 ERA (3 ER/4.2 IP) over his first two appearances vs. Atlanta. He struck out the lone two batters he faced in a relief appearance on April 27, 2013 and received a no-decision in his only start vs. the Braves (3 ER/4.0 IP) on Sept. 12, 2019. Smyly the 2021 season with the Braves, winning his first career World Series championship.
Why Bet on Atlanta?
Closer Kenley Jansen struck out two over a perfect ninth Tuesday against the Cubs, securing his fifth save of the season. Entering the top of the ninth with a two-run lead, Jansen had a clean one-two-three inning. After allowing three earned runs in his first appearance of the season, the veteran hasn’t allowed a hit over his last six outings and he’s converted five straight save opportunities.
Star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to rehab at Triple-A from his torn ACL and is expected to make his season debut May 6 against the Brewers in Atlanta. Though the Braves won last year’s World Series without Acuna, his absence has certainly been noticeable, as the reigning champions have repeatedly stumbled through this season’s first two weeks.
“That will be a big boost for us,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “When he comes back, our lineup is going to get longer and we’re going to slot some guys in some better places. Hopefully, that rehab continues to go well and we get him back and who knows what might happen?”
Alas, fellow outfielder Eddie Rosario will miss eight to 12 weeks while recovering from a laser procedure to correct blurred vision and swelling in his right eye. Surgery was recommended after the outfielder visited a retinal specialist on Monday. Rosario — who was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday — has gone 3-for-44 with a double this year.
For the season, the Braves have an expected batting average of .274. The difference between their batting average and their expected batting average of -.044 is the fourth highest in baseball and the highest in the National League.
It’s Kyle Wright (2-0, 1.06) on the mound for this one. Wright recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings last Friday in a win over the Marlins. What a performance. Wright scattered four hits and only issued one walk. The 26-year-old former top prospect struck out the side in both the first and fourth innings. He generated 20 swinging strikes, while also successfully commanding his entire four-pitch arsenal, and finishing with a 39 percent CSW.
Wright is now throwing his curveball 33.8 percent of the time, holding the opposition to a .125 average against. The pitch has a different shape from years past, and the spin is up to 2690 from 2619 a year ago. Wright’s walk rate is at three percent. In the past, it lived in the 14 percent territory. He also has more than doubled his best K% of his career, as he’s striking out 39.4 percent of batters faced.
- Cubs are 2-6 in their last 8 Thursday games.
- Cubs are 5-16 in their last 21 vs. National League East.
- Cubs are 1-4 in their last 5 road games vs. a right-handed starter.
- Braves are 6-2 in their last 8 vs. National League Central.
- Braves are 19-7 in their last 26 during game 3 of a series.
- Braves are 1-4 in their last 5 Thursday games.
Expert Prediction: Braves 4, Cubs 2
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