Two teams headed in different directions meet as the Cubs and Braves play Game 3 of a four-game series at Wrigley Field Saturday afternoon. Chicago is a huge favorite, again, but there are ways of dealing with problems like that.
Braves-Cubs Saturday Odds
As of this writing the best price we could find on Chicago with Dan Haren was the -215 offered at 5Dimes, while Atlanta and Williams Perez were getting +204 at BetOnline. And every book on our MLB odds board listed a total on today's game of nine runs.
Chicago has taken the first two games of this four-game series, following Friday's 5-3 victory. So the Cubs have won 17 of their last 21 games, while Atlanta has lost five in a row and nine of its last 11.
At 69-51 Chicago still trails division-leading St. Louis by 7.5 games in the NL Central, but leads San Francisco by four games in the race for the second National League wild-card spot.
On the other end of the spectrum Atlanta, at 53-69, continues to play out the string on this season.
The Cubs lead this season series four games to one, with the UNDERS going 4-1.
Haren (8-8, 3.62), by our strict standards, is 12-for-24 on quality starts this season, but 0 for three since joining Chicago in that trade with Miami earlier this month. Last Sunday he gave up three runs and seven hits, including three solo ding-dongs, in less than five innings against the White Sox, and in three starts as a Cub he's allowed nine earned runs, and six homers, through 15 innings. On the season Haren has allowed 135 hits, including 27 home runs, which is third-most in the Majors, through 144 innings, walked 28 and struck out 101.
Chicago is 1-2 in Haren's starts, with the OVERS going 2-1.
Haren has started once previously this season against Atlanta, back in April when as a Marlin he held the Braves to two runs – on two solo homers – through seven innings of a 6-2 Miami victory.
Perez (4-4, 4.34) is five-for-12 on quality starts, but just one for his last six. Monday he gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings against San Diego, and over his last six starts he's allowed 26 ER through 35 1/3 innings. For the season Perez has permitted 75 hits through 75 innings, but his K/BB ratio stinks, at 46/37.
The Braves are 5-7 in games Perez has started, with the OVERS going 6-5.
This will be Perez's first-ever start against the Cubbies.
Saturday's Batting Splits
Atlanta ranks 11th in the Majors this season against right-handed pitching with a .257 team batting average, and 16th with a .315 team on-base percentage.
Chicago, meanwhile, ranks just 28th against righties with a .241 team BA but 13th with a .317 team OBP.
Throw in some power numbers and we give the Cubs the edge with the sticks.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Friendly Confines this season are 34-24 on the UNDERS, averaging 7.5 runs per.
Braves-Cubs Saturday Free Picks
We'll give Haren a short edge in the pitching match-up, but Chicago also gets the check marks with the sticks and in the bullpen. But today's price is too damn high. So we'll take a chance, like we did for Thursday night's series opener (with success), and add a run line play to our MLB picks in favor of the home team. Also, with a little help from the wind this game has a good chance to go OVER.