MLB Picks: Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves

Doug Upstone

Saturday, May 10, 2014 5:12 PM GMT

Based on the play of these two teams this season, this should not be much of contest. But Chicago has one the best starters in baseball throwing tonight, providing them a chance to beat the MLB odds.

Cubs Asked to Wait (again) While Bettor’s Prosper
Coming off the worst three-year stretch in team history with 288 losses, the Chicago Cubs keep asking their fans to be “patient” as they build the entire organization from deep in the basement.

Where else in any sport is a general manager not be concerned with win and losses. When asked how first-year manager Rick Renteria is doing, GM Jed Hoyer said this.

“It’s no different than it was with Dale [Sveum –former manager],” said Hoyer earlier this week. “We’re not at a place right now where we’re going to evaluate him based on the standings in the paper in the morning.” 

If this sounds like culturally backwards 1970’s hippie speak, keep reading. “He (Renteria) creates a great environment for these guys,” Hoyer explained. “A lot of guys are playing really well. A lot of guys are playing much better than last year. We’ve given him a young team, we’ve given him a young bullpen. He’s managed that really well. I like the tone.” 

Well, MLB baseball handicappers working the betting odds are also pleased and laughing all the way to the bank.

The Cubs were supposed to be brutal this season and all indications they will be well into the negative numbers in money line wagering (-7.9 units to date). If you are considering betting against lovable Cubbies tonight or in the future, realize prior to this season, in the past five years, if you bet against the Cubs every game in that span, you would be up 90.1 units. (Say what?)

Take a Look at Saturday's Top MLB Picks of the Day!

Atlanta Needs Hitter’s not Pitcher’s
Though the Braves lost two starting pitchers in spring training, yesterday they “moved” starter Alex Wood to the bullpen. With the return of Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd from the DL, skipper Freddi Gonzalez has six starters.

At this point Gonzalez has more useful starting pitchers than he can fill out a lineup card with of hitters.

Atlanta is 29th in runs scored at 3.2 per game, with players like B.J Upton, Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla acting like an anchor to the offense, all hovering around .200 with nasty looking on-base percentages.

To an observer looking over the MLB odds, the Braves players compound their own problems by being free-swingers (4th in NL in strikeouts) and they show no discipline at the dish with the fourth-fewest walks in the National League.

Gonzalez needs to start making this group be smarter at the plate and stop wasting good pitching efforts.

 

Pitching Matchup for Saturday
Tough luck does not begin to describe Jeff Samardjiza (0-3, 1.62 ERA). The Cubs ace has the second-best ERA among all starting pitchers in baseball and yet has failed to notch victory in seven starts. In fact, the last time Samardjiza tasted victory was Aug. 24 last season, 13 starts ago. In those baker’s dozen outings, the Cubs have scored an ungrand total of 28 runs leading to failure. Chicago is -14.3 units in the right-hander’s previous 13 trips to the bump.

Close to as remarkable, Ervin Santana was not even on a major league roster in early March until Atlanta pitchers began falling like Kevin Durant jump shots. Santana is 3-0 with 2.41 ERA. Thus far he’s been holding opposing hitters to just a .211 average and for those preparing sports picks, the right-hander has a scintillating 4-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

 

Bullpen View
For those trolling underdogs with their MLB picks, Chicago has blown four of the eight save chances costing backers money, but considering how bad this team they have a respectable 3.81 ERA and have been lights out on the road with a 1.88 ERA and have only been taken deep once in away games.

A per usual, Atlanta relievers are doing fine work and have recorded 15 saves in 19 attempts and are in the upper third of ERA’s in the NL. Braves hurlers don’t give in either, being among the best in fewest walks while near the top in punchouts.

 

Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
Atlanta has won six of eight at Turner Field against Chicago since 2012 with the sportsbooks totals ringing up a 5-3 UNDER in the same period.

The opening odds on the Braves were -135 and almost immediately they shot up to -150 with the total sinking from 7 to 6.5.

[gameodds]3/263723/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

The Winner Is….
Let’s go out on a limb here and say Chicago finds a way to win. The Atlanta offense is worse than the Cubs and Samardjiza cannot continue to pitch this well without finding a victory.

I’ll call for Mike Olt and Anthony Rizzo to go yard and Chicago wins 2-1!

MLB Free Picks: Chicago wins