The Braves, after dropping the opener of this series Monday
night, got things back to even with a 10-3 victory over the Cubs Tuesday with
help from a five-for-five, four RBI performance from All-Star Chipper Jones.
Chicago guaranteed itself at least a split of this series
Wednesday with a 5-1 victory, getting a quality start from Paul Maholm and
homers from Anthony Rizzo, Bryan LaHair and Jeff Baker.
The Cubs won as +150 underdogs on the MLB betting line
Wednesday, and the game stayed UNDER its total of nine.
So the Braves, losers of seven of their last 11 games and at
42-39, go into Thursday's play six games behind first-place Washington in the
The Cubs, meanwhile, have won seven of their last nine games
to get to 19 games under .500 at 31-50.
Atlanta will send lefty Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20) to the mound
for Thursday's series finale (7:10 pm Eastern) against Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01)
for the Cubs.
Minor is just three-for-15 on quality starts this season,
and yet, somehow, the Braves have won seven of his starts. Most recently Minor
allowed four earned runs on five hits and five walks in five innings vs. the
Nationals last Saturday, and over his last three starts he's given up 12 ER in
15 1/3 innings. On the season Minor has allowed 88 hits, including 18 homers,
and walked 38 in 86 innings.
Minor started twice vs. Chicago last year and picked up two
wins despite allowing six ER on 15 hits in 10 2/3 innings.
Garza, on the other hand, is eight-for-15 on quality starts
this year, but thanks to some lousy bullpen efforts and some poor run support
the Cubs are only 5-10 when he's started. His last time out Garza gave up two
runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in a win over Houston, and over his last
three starts he's allowed eight ER in 18 1/3 innings. For the season Garza has
held opponents to 78 hits in 90 innings, walked 26 and struck out 80. So just
looking at his record and ERA doesn't give you the whole story with this guy
Last year Garza started twice vs. Atlanta, allowing five ER
on 14 hits in 10 innings.
For Thursday's game, MLB odds makers are listing the
Braves at right around -130, with a total of 8.5.
In early betting on Thursday's game about two-thirds of the
action on the side has come in on the Braves, while about 55 percent of play on
the total has come in on the UNDER.
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We've had good luck
with this series. We backed the Cubs Monday as +190 dogs, then won with the
OVER on Tuesday, then had the Cubbies again on Wednesday getting +150. As for
Thursday's game, we notice that the OVER/UNDERS are a combined 20-10 in games
started by Minor and Garza this season, so we'll hope that trend continues and
go with the OVER 8.5
Chicago won Monday getting +190 as an underdog, while
Atlanta won Tuesday as a -185 favorite.
So Atlanta, at 42-38, remains five games behind first-place
Washington in the NL East, while Tuesday's defeat dropped the Cubbies back to
20 games under .500 at 30-50.
Chicago has still won six of its last eight games, but
they've not exactly been bombing the ball around. Over their last six games
they've scored a total of 18 runs, and over their last 13 games they've been
held to three runs or less eight times.
Atlanta will throw Randall Delgado (4-8, 4.52) for Game 3 of
this four-game series Wednesday (7:10 pm Eastern, WGN) while the Cubs will go
with Paul Maholm (5-6, 4.84).
Delgado is only four-for-15 this season on quality starts,
the Braves have only won four of his starts, and they've lost his last four
starts. A couple of weeks ago Delgado threw one of his best games of this year,
holding the Orioles to two runs on three hits through eight innings, but since
then he's started twice and been clipped for six runs on 14 hits in just 5 1/3
So far this season Delgado has given up 76 hits in 80
innings, but his 39 walks have caused some problems.
Delgado has one career start vs. the Cubs, back in May at
Wrigley Field, and it was a good one, as he allowed just one earned run on
three hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 3-1 Atlanta win.
Maholm, meanwhile, is six-for-15 on quality starts this
year, and the Cubs have won six of his starts. He's coming off his best outing
of the season, after holding the Astros scoreless on four hits over 8 1/3
innings last Friday, but just before that he'd allowed six runs on nine hits in
less than four innings vs. the Diamondbacks.
For the year Maholm has given up 86 hits and walked 26 in 84
Maholm started once vs. the Braves last year, as a member of
the Pirates, and has one start vs. Atlanta this year. In those two games
together he allowed just one ER and 12 hits over 14 innings, with three walks
and 11 whiffs.
Most online sportsbooks opened the Braves as favorites of
around -155 for Wednesday's game, with the total at nine. But early betting
action on Atlanta quickly pushed the price upwards to -170 at many
The Braves also started off at around +140 on most baseball
betting run lines, but that price quickly got bet down to +125.
Free MLB Pick for
We had a nice winner to open this series with the Cubs as
+190 dogs, and then we played the right side of the total Tuesday, cashing in
on the OVER. As for Wednesday's game, most of the early public play is coming
in on the Braves, pushing the price up, and we like that, because with an eye
on Maholm's recent luck vs. Atlanta we'll go the other way and back
Chicago got a great outing from the recently struggling Jeff
Samardzija and a three-run double from Luis Valbuena to beat Atlanta Monday
night 4-1. The Cubbies won as underdogs of +190, and the game stayed 'under'
its total of eight.
Chicago has suddenly won six of its last seven games to pull
within 19 games of .500 and 14 games of the first-place Reds in the NL Central.
Sorry, Cubs fans, that's about the best I can spin their situation at the
Chicago is also 5-1 since installing Anthony Rizzo in the
lineup. The lefty-hitting first-baseman is batting .304 with two homers and
five RBI in his first six games with the Cubs.
And hey, Chicago is now 11-29 on the road this year, and 3-1
against the Braves.
Atlanta, meanwhile, has lost six of its last nine games, and
at 41-38 now trails the first-place Nationals by five games in the NL East.
The Cubs will send Chris Volstad (0-6, 7.46) to the mound
Tuesday against Jair Jurrjens (1-2, 6.07) for the Braves.
Volstad is a perfect 0-for-eight on quality starts this
year, and Chicago is a perfect 0-8 in games he's started. Makes you wonder why
they're trotting him out there again. Most recently Volstad gave up four runs
in six hits in just two innings (!) vs Philly back on May 17, after which he
was sent to triple-A Iowa, where he posted a 4.44 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in 51
innings. So obviously, with Ryan Dempster on the DL, the Cubs are hurting for
options at this spot in the rotation.
In the Majors this year Volstad has allowed 51 hits and
walked 15 in 41 innings.
Last year, pitching for the Marlins, Volstad started three
games against Atlanta, in total allowing 10 earned runs on 21 hits in 16 1/3
Warming up over in the other bullpen, Jurrjens is
one-for-six on quality starts this year, although the Braves have managed to
split his six starts. But in his two starts since coming back from a stint in
the minors Jurrjens has allowed three ER on nine hits in 13 1/3 innings. So
maybe he's found a little something.
Last year Jurrjens started one game vs. the Cubs and got the
win, somehow holding Chicago scoreless through 6 1/3 innings despite allowing
eight hits and walking five guys.
On Tuesday's MLB odds board Matchbook is lining Atlanta
at -176 for Tuesday's game, with Chicago getting +173. The Braves can also be
gotten at +122 on Matchbook's run line.
And most shops are listing the 'over/under' on this game at
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We picked up a nice win Monday with the underdog Cubs, thank
you very much Mr. Samardzija, but taking Chicago on back-to-back days is
probably dangerous, especially with Volstad going. On the other side of this
matchup we loved Jurrjens last year, but that price is a little high for a guy
who was in the minors a month ago. So we'll put aside the side on this game,
and go with the 'over' nine on the total.
To set things up, we see that Atlanta just dropped two of
three games at home to Washington over the weekend, losing Sunday's series
rubber match 8-4. The Braves are 3-3 on their current homestand.
Chicago, meanwhile, just swept three games from Houston over
the weekend to finish off a 5-1 homestand. So maybe the Cubbies have a little
life left in them.
Heading into this week the Braves, at 41-37, sit in third
place in the NL East, 4.5 games back of first-place Washington, while the
Cubbies, 20 games under .500 at 29-49, are in last place in the NL Central, 14
games behind division-leading Cincinnati.
For Monday's pitching battle the Cubs will throw a struggling
Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 5.05) against Tommy Hanson (9-4, 3.59) for the Braves.
Samardzija was off to a decent start to this season, and
brought a 3.09 ERA into the month of June, but over his last four starts, all
losses on his card, he's been bombed for 25 earned runs on 26 hits and 10 walks
in just 18 1/3 innings. His last time out was particularly ugly, giving up nine
runs, two homers and walking four without getting out of the fifth inning on a
windy day at Wrigley against the Mets.
Before things went bad, though, Samardzija started against Atlanta back on May 7 and got a win, holding the Braves to one run on five hits
in seven innings. And last year, pitching from the pen, Samardzija made four
appearances against Atlanta, and gave up squat over four innings.
This season Samardzija is seven-for-15 on quality starts,
and the Cubs are 7-8 when he's started.
Hanson, meanwhile, is only seven-for-16 on quality starts
this year, but the Braves have won 11 of his starts, including his last five in
a row. Most recently Hanson allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings
of a 6-4 win over Arizona, and over his last five outings he's given up 11
earned runs in 31 2/3 innings.
For the season Hanson has allowed 89 hits through 92
innings, although he has been tagged for 15 homers.
In his only start so far this year against the Cubs Hanson
took the loss in that same game Samardzija got the win, although he only gave
up two runs on five hits in six innings.
In doing some shopping around at some of the various online
baseball bookmakers Monday morning we found that the best price on the Braves
for Monday's series opener was the -180 at Matchbook, while the Cubs could be
played at +181 at 5Dimes.
In early betting action on Monday's game about 70 percent of
play on the side had come in on Atlanta.
For those who really like the Braves Monday night Matchbook
is also offering them at +119 on the run line.
Finally, most MLB odds boards are listing the 'over/under' on Monday's game at eight. About 55 percent of the early play on the total had come
in on the 'under.'
Looking a little more long-term BetOnline is listing Atlanta
as a -225 favorite to win this series, with Chicago getting +195 as the
In the first meeting this year between these teams the Cubs
took two of three games from the Braves at Wrigley Field back in early May. All
three of those games played 'under' on the totals, as the teams combined to
score just 11 runs in that series.
Atlanta may be four games above .500 overall this season,
but for whatever reason the Braves are just 18-20 at home.
Chicago, meanwhile, is a dismal 10-29 on the road this year.
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This is a tough one.
The Cubs own the worst record in baseball, but have been hot lately. Then
again, Samardzija has been terrible as of late. On the other side of the
equation the Braves are fighting to stay in the playoff picture, but they've
only been average lately, and the big price scares us. So for no better reason
than the odds we'll go with underdog Chicago Monday night