Cubs vs. Braves MLB Odds & Picks: Pitching Edge Gives Chicago Value (Thursday, April 29)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Anthony Rizzo.
- Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves will host Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night.
- The Braves have a solid lineup — one that has performed at least as well as the Cubs recently — but Kevin Davis thinks they are at a disadvantage because of starting pitching.
- Check out Davis' full betting guide complete with updated odds and a pick below.
Cubs vs. Braves Odds
|Time||7:20 p.m. ET|
After one brief look at the MLB standings, the odds for Thursday’s Cubs/Braves game appear to be efficiently priced.
Atlanta has won 50% of its games this season, while Chicago has only won 41.7% of its games. A .500-level team like the Braves should beat a .417-level team like the Cubs 58.3% of the time. The breakeven odds on the Braves at -150 are 60%, suggesting that the line has been efficiently set.
However, when you dig deeper into the game, it becomes apparent that the Braves should not be heavy favorites. Atlanta may have a slightly better lineup, but Chicago has an edge in starting pitching. Based on the pitching matchup, I like the Cubs to win outright as +125 underdogs.
The Cubs’ biggest weakness is their lineup.
Currently, the Cubbies are averaging only 4.12 runs per game. On the surface, this should be concerning for Chicago, but the median MLB team this season scores only 4.2 runs per game. The Cubs are not doomed to lose this season because their lineup is performing close to the league average.
But Chicago’s lineup is underperforming, as Ian Happ, Javier Báez, and Jason Heyward are underperforming their preseason projections. If all three of those players produce at the level that they can perform at, then the Cubs should score 4% more runs per game this season than the average MLB team.
While the Cubs lineup is not particularly noteworthy, they have an edge in starting pitching for Thursday’s game. The starting pitcher for Chicago is set to be rookie Adbert Alzolay, who had a bleak prospectus coming into the season.
The Cubs’ farm system was rated as only the 22nd-best going into the season, and Alzolay was rated as only their seventh-best prospect. Going into the season, Alzolay was projected to have an ERA around five.
So far this season, Alzolay has done much better than his projections suggested he would do.
After three starts Alzolay may have a 5.40 ERA, but he also has an xFIP of only 3.33. With an xFIP that is more than two full runs lower than his ERA, Alzolay should contend for NL Rookie of the Year if he keeps pitching this well.
If Alzolay pitches a solid game against Atlanta, then Chicago should win on Thursday night.
While the Cubs’ lineup is nothing to write home about, the Braves’ lineup is their biggest strength.
Atlanta is averaging 4.75 runs per game which is the eighth-best mark in the league. However, outside of Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Ozzie Albies, the Braves’ lineup has not performed that well this season.
Both Marcell Ozuna, Travis d’Arnaud, and Dansby Swanson have not played well this season. If all three of those players do not produce against Chicago and Alzolay can contain Acuña and Freeman, then Atlanta will not win.
If the Braves lose on Thursday, it will likely be because of starting pitcher Bryse Wilson.
Entering the season, Atlanta already had a weak starting rotation, and due to injuries, the 23-year-old Wilson was elevated to the rotation. So far in two starts, Wilson has been disappointing, as he has a 5.00 ERA, and a 5.30 xFIP.
Additionally, Wilson has a strikeout rate of only five strikeouts per nine innings, and he cannot be relied upon to pitch many innings. With Wilson on the mound for Atlanta, I believe Chicago has a solid chance of winning.
The Cubs have an edge in starting pitching on Thursday, and their lineup is not that bad, giving them an opportunity to pick up a victory.
The Braves may have a better lineup, but they are vulnerable with Wilson on the mound today.
I like the Cubs moneyline at +120, and I would play it down to +110.
Pick: Cubs ML +120 (Play to +110)