Braves vs. Cubs MLB Odds & Picks: How to Find Betting Value on Sunday Night Baseball (April 18)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images. Pictured: Marcell Ozuna.
- Both Atlanta and Chicago have staggered out to slow starts, despite offseason expectations of something more.
- Bryse Wilson makes his first start of the year for the Braves, facing Chicago's Kyle Hendricks.
- See which betting angles Sean Zerillo likes for this game, below.
Braves vs. Cubs Odds
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
Two weeks into the 2021 campaign, the Atlanta Braves (6-9), and Chicago Cubs (6-8) have both underachieved relative to expectations.
The betting market pegged Atlanta’s Over/Under at 91.5 wins prior to the season and set Chicago’s total at 78.5 wins. Publicly available projection systems only saw downside relative to the Braves’ total, but there was some optimism in the Cubs’ projection.
Thus far, Chicago’s offense owns a league-worst .217 BABIP and ranks dead-last in wOBA (.288) too. Their expected wOBA or xwOBA ranks 23rd (.309), so they’re not due for significant regression overall (the Cubs lead the league with an unsustainable 17.5% HR/FB rate), but their actual batting average (.184) is 41 points below their expected average or xBA (.225), so I would expect to see base hits to start falling at a greater frequency.
I’m more optimistic about Atlanta’s offensive outlook. They own the largest expected difference (-0.38) in quality of contact relative to results, with a .315 wOBA, but a .353 xwOBA — the fifth-best expected mark in MLB and a number which matches their 2020 results (.353).
The pitching for both clubs has neither been fortunate nor unfortunate. Chicago ranks 10th in wOBA and 11th in xwOBA, with a slight difference in their actual and expected statistics, while Atlanta’s metrics (.319) are identical in both categories and just about league average.
Let’s dive deeper into the starting pitchers, projections, and the best ways to bet this Sunday Night Baseball matchup.
Bryse Wilson will get his first start of the season for the Braves in a marquee game and will hope to provide a boost to Atlanta’s reeling rotation. Max Fried was just placed on the injured list, and Mike Soroka is suffering from shoulder inflammation in his return from a 2020 Achilles injury.
We last saw Wilson in Game Four of the 2020 NLCS, where he put on a relatively masterful performance (6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, in his first playoff appearance.
Solid command on FB. Sits around 94-95. CH sits at 87 & drops off the table. SL sits at 89 with cutter-like movement. Occasional CB at 79.
Out-pitched Kershaw in Game 4 of the NLCS. Will compete for a rotation spot until Soroka returns. pic.twitter.com/0LI47Finoz
— hashim (@___hash___) February 8, 2021
Wilson’s career metrics (4.85 FIP, 5.56 xFIP, 5.91 ERA) don’t reflect his true talent or potential.
Wilson was drafted in the fourth round in 2016 due to signability concerns, but the Braves convinced him to join the organization with a well-above-slot $1.2M bonus.
Wilson throws five pitches (fastball, sinker, changeup, curveball, slider), and both his curveball and slider returned a positive pitch value in his limited 2020 sample. He had a lot of minor league success, blowing through A-ball in 2017 (3.20 FIP, 3.76 K/BB), Double-A ball in 2018 (2.73 FIP, 3.42 K/BB), and Triple-A in 2019 (3.68 FIP, 4.54 K/BB), but Wilson has yet to carry the full weight of that performance to the big leagues.
He has a bulldog mentality on the mound and goes right at hitters with his fastball, using it aggressively up in the zone. When Wilson doesn’t have command over his fastball, he tends to unravel because all of his secondary stuff is set up by his heater.
In the Braves’ bullpen, Nate Jones and Jacob Webb have both worked two out of the past three days, and a Sunday appearance would mark the third outing in four days for A.J. Minter.
Defensively, Atlanta ranks 22nd in Defensive Runs Saved (-3) and 17th in Outs Above Average (0).
Kyle Hendricks is an unlikely ace, averaging just a scrape above 86 mph on his fastball, the slowest average fastball velocity for an active starting pitcher.
Despite only throwing as fast as your best high-school teammate, Hendricks has carried a career 3.54 FIP, 3.76 xFIP, 3.92 SIERA and .285 wOBA — well-above-average indicators — by mixing his two-seam and four-seam fastballs with an average curveball and a pair of scintillating changeups.
140 seconds of Kyle Hendricks Changeups from 2020. 👌 pic.twitter.com/aULr9R5Z2U
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 9, 2021
Hendricks changes speeds so regularly and effectively that he is extremely difficult to chart even with high-speed cameras. The movement data on his fastballs and offspeed pitches are nearly indistinguishable. Scouts have to rely upon pitch grips and catcher signals in order to determine what he’s actually throwing.
Hendricks is a master of command –ranking in the top 10 percent of pitchers in walk rate since 2018 — and generating soft contact — ranking in the top 10 percent of pitchers in average exit velocity over his career.
He has been slightly more effective against righties (3.61 xFIP) than lefties (3.93 xFIP) over his career, which is somewhat surprising considering his heavy changeup usage. In a relatively limited sample against Braves hitters, he’s gotten touched up a bit (68 AB, 1.107 OPS, 7 BB, 13 K), but I wouldn’t put too much stock into those numbers.
In the Cubs’ bullpen, Jason Adam is the only reliever potentially experiencing fatigue. Chicago had an off-day on Thursday, but Adam has worked both games since.
Defensively, Chicago ranks 26th in Defensive Runs Saved (-5) and 21st in Outs Above Average (-1).
Comparing my projected odds to the listed odds for Sunday night, I see a fair amount of value for Sunday night.
I need +130 or better to bet the Braves F5 Moneyline, and I would pull the trigger on the Braves’ full game moneyline at +122 or better.
As for the total, I projected the full game line nearly a run lower than the listed odds, but with the Under 9 juiced to -120, it’s just out of a range. I would bet Under 9 at -117 or better but would bypass that number at -120.
Instead, I prefer the value on the F5 Under 4.5 at plus money, which I would play at -110 or better. Betting Under 5 at -120 is OK too.
There’s slight wind blowing out to center field at Wrigley today, but not enough to scare me off the play, particularly with pitcher-friendly umpire Mike Estabrook behind the dish (career 55.7% under, +28.2 units for a consistent $100 bettor).
- First Five Innings, Under 4.5 (0.5 units, bet to -110)
- Braves First Five Innings Moneyline (0.5u, bet to +130)
- Braves Moneyline (0.5u, bet to +122)
- Under 9, Bet at -117 or better