The Cubs own a three-game losing streak, but this handicapper expects them to put a stop to that Thursday night when they open a four-game series at home against Atlanta.
Braves-Cubs Thursday Odds
As of this writing the best price we could find on Chicago with Jake Arrieta was the -245 posted at Pinnacle, while Atlanta and Mike Foltynewicz – Folty from here on out – could be found getting +235 at Heritage.
Chicago just got swept two games at home by Detroit, losing Wednesday night 15-8. Still, the Cubs are 5-1-1 in their last seven series, and 15-4 over their last 19 games.
At 67-51 Chicago trails first-place St. Louis by nine games in the NL Central, but leads San Francisco by three games in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
Atlanta, meanwhile, just got swept three games out in San Diego, losing Wednesday 3-2. So the Braves are 2-6 over their last eight series, and 8-18 over their last 26 games.
At 53-67 Atlanta is just playing out the string on this season.
This is the second meeting between these teams this season; back a month ago the Cubs took two of three games down at Turner Field, with all three games playing UNDER the totals, as the teams combined to score just 15 runs.
Thursday's Mound Match-Up
Arrieta (14-6, 2.39), by our tough accounting, is 16-for-24 on quality starts this season, working on a run of four in a row. Last Saturday he held the White Sox to two earned runs through 6 2/3 innings, and over his last four starts he's allowed just four runs through 27 1/3 innings. On the season Arrieta has given up just 120 hits through 162 innings, walked 41 and whiffed 163, for a K/BB ratio of 4/1, which is very nice.
Chicago is 16-8 in Arrieta's starts, with the totals skewing toward the UNDERS by a 13-6 margin (with a bunch of pushes).
Arrieta has started once this season against Atlanta, throwing seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball, with 10 strikeouts, in a 4-1 Cubs win in that series last month.
Folty (4-4, 5.61) is just four-for-13 on quality starts, and 0 for his last three. Last Saturday he gave up six runs in less than five innings against Arizona, and over his last three starts he's been tagged for 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings. For the season Folty has allowed 99 hits, including 15 homers, in just 77 innings, walked 26 and struck out 68.
The Braves are 6-7 in Folty's starts, with the totals leaning OVER 8-4.
This will be Folty's first-ever start against the Cubbies.
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Thursday's Batting Splits
Atlanta ranks 10th in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .258 team batting average, and 14th with a .316 team on-base percentage.
Chicago, meanwhile, ranks 28th against righties with a .240 team average but 16th with a .316 team OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The UNDERS are 33-23 in games played at Wrigley Field this season, which are averaging 7.5 runs per.
The Atlanta lineup received a boost this week with the return of 1B Freddie Freeman from the disabled list.
Braves-Cubs Thursday Free Picks
The Cubs are a logical MLB pick here, but that price is crazy. So we'll take a chance and play the home team against the run line. Also, with a little help from the Braves bullpen, and perhaps the wind, this game should go OVER.