Atlanta Braves (+237) at Chicago Cubs (-260, 7.5 o/u)
Short days ago, the Chicago Cubs (67-51, 34-26 Home) were the hottest team in baseball. They had won 15 of 16 games and were making gains on the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. Since then, however, the Cubbies have dropped three straight and now find themselves nine back of the Cardinals for the division lead. Chicago will send up-and-coming right-hander Jake Arrieta (14-6, 2.39 ERA) to the mound against the Atlanta Braves (53-67, 21-43 Away) tonight (8:05 PM Eastern at Wrigley Field), looking to end their skid.
The Cubs pitching staff has been hammered over the last two games, allowing 25 runs to the Detroit Tigers. Lefty Jon Lester gave up seven hits and seven runs in just 2.2 innings en route to a 15-8 setback last night.
The prized off-season acquisition hasn’t lived up to expectations in the Windy City, and he’s struggling to figure out the cause.
“I’m being honest with you right now, I’m just scratching my head,” Lester said to the Associated Press.
Arrieta is a prime candidate to stop the bleeding for Chicago; he leads the team in Ws and is on a three-game winning streak of his own, which includes a decent five-hit, three-run performance over 6.2 innings against the White Sox last time out.
Arrieta and the Cubs will be hosting an Atlanta Braves team that is 14 games below .500 and 11 back of the NY Mets in the NL East. Like the Cubs, the Braves have lost three straight after being swept by the San Diego Padres. The offense has let the team down all year, sitting 29th in the majors in runs and 30th in slugging percentage.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (4-4, 5.61 ERA) is scheduled to start tonight for the Braves. He went just 4.2 innings against Arizona last time out, surrendering nine hits and six runs while taking the loss.
With the Cubs at home and Arrieta on the bump, don’t expect anything other than a Chicago win tonight, especially given the Braves anemic offense.
Pick: Cubs (-260).
(Photo credit: MBDChicago (Jorge Soler 2014) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)