Chicago Cubs vs Atlanta Braves: Preview & Prediction

Braves infielder Freddie Freeman throwing.
Freddie Freeman and his .518 OBP lead Atlanta's dynamic offense into Wrigley Field tonight. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr) [CC License].

Two teams looking for a little more consistency will meet this afternoon when the Chicago Cubs welcome the Atlanta Braves to Wrigley Field (2:20 PM ET, April 13). The Cubs send big-ticket free agent Yu Darvish to the bump for his third start of the year, while Atlanta counters with their own, much-less-heralded pickup, Anibal Sanchez.

Will Darvish tame Atlanta’s feral bats in his first start at Wrigley in a Cubs uniform? The opening odds, key stats, betting trends, weather forecast, and score prediction are below.

Opening Odds

MONEYLINE RUNLINE O/U RUNS
BRAVES (+216) BRAVES +1.5 — OFF UNDER — OFF
CUBS (-235) CUBS -1.5 — OFF OVER — OFF

Darvish was banged around in his first start of the year, giving up five hits, two walks, and five runs over just 4.1 innings of work against the Marlins. The offense picked up him, though, and Chicago escaped Miami with a 10-6 win. The 6-5 righty was a lot better in his second start, going six strong against the Brewers with nine Ks while surrendering just two hits and one run. The offense didn’t click until late and Darvish wound up with a no decision in a 5-2 Chicago win.

Anibal Sanchez has been better than advertised for the Braves so far. After watching his ERA balloon from 4.99 to 5.87 to 6.41 over the last three seasons, not much was expected from him in Atlanta. But in his first two starts, he’s only allowed two runs and eight hits over eight innings, while striking out eight and walking five. If he continues to be an above average Major League starter, he’ll exceed expectations.

Despite solid performances from Sanchez, Atlanta still lost his first two starts (8-1 vs Washington; 3-2 at Colorado). That’s brutal luck for the Venezuelan as his team is third in the majors in runs scored (68 runs; 5.66 runs/game).

Team Stats

CUBS
VS
BRAVES
6-6 (1-2 Home) RECORD 7-5 (3-3 Away)
 Yu Darvish: 0-0, 5.23 ERA  PROBABLE STARTER Anibal Sanchez: 0-0, 2.25 ERA
 .232 BA, .608 OPS (in 56 at-bats) LINEUP VS OPPONENT STARTER .053 BA, .234 OPS (in 19 at-bats)
1.55 (3rd in MLB) BULLPEN ERA 1.42 ERA (1st in MLB)
.758 (7th in MLB) TEAM OPS .772 (4th in MLB)
6-1 (3-1 Home)  2017 HEAD-TO-HEAD 1-6 (1-3 Away)

Betting Results & Trends

CUBS  TREND BRAVES
Lost 1 WIN/LOSS STREAK Won 1
3-2 LAST 5 2-3
6-6 RUNLINE RECORD 8-4
5-7 OVER/UNDER SPLIT 4-5-3
 Under 1 OVER/UNDER STREAK Under 5

 

Atlanta was off on Thursday. They avoided a sweep at the hands of the Nationals on Wednesday with a 5-3 win in extras. The Cubs, meanwhile, continued their up-and-down start yesterday, falling 6-1 to the Pirates just one day after the offense exploded for 16 hits and 13 runs.

Weather Forecast at Opening Pitch

TEMPERATURE 57°
HUMIDITY TBD
WIND SPEED S 8 MPH (out to left center)
P.O.P. 34%

Score Prediction

BRAVES 4
CUBS 6

The early-season stats for Darvish and Sanchez belie what a pitching mismatch this really is. Darvish still has the potential to be a dominant starter and showed a little of that in his last outing. Sanchez, on the other hand, has a long track record of giving up ample runs (4.08 ERA) and has been at his worst over the last few years.

The probabilities strongly favor a Cubs win by multiple runs, Atlanta’s potent offense notwithstanding.

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Sascha was a hockey player in his youth. He gave that up to do something much more practical: become a lawyer. He gave that up to do something much more enjoyable: write about sports. SBD's lead odds-maker/number cruncher since 2014, Sascha writes and edits about anything and everything you can possibly put odds on. He's happiest when those things are baseball, hockey, football, and basketball, though. In his spare time, Sascha likes watching Jeopardy with his wife, building train sets with his son, and pretending he's still an athlete, not necessarily in that order.