Chicago Cubs (-126, 7 o/u) at Atlanta Braves (+116)
Neither of the Chicago Cubs’ (47-40, 22-20 away) young sluggers – Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant – were able to advance past the first round in the Home Run Derby on Monday. Tomorrow (7:30 PM Eastern), they’ll look to take out any lingering frustration on the floundering Atlanta Braves (42-47, 23-17 home) when they travel to Turner Field for the first of a three-game set.
The Braves were pegged to be one of the weaker sides in the National League this season, but got off to a surprisingly hot start. Their young roster ran into some trouble just before the All-Star Break, though, dropping five straight to put the team five games below .500 at the mid-season hiatus. The losing streak was capped off by a four-game sweep at the hands of the NL West cellar-dwelling Rockies.
Tonight, the Braves will turn to Julio Teheran (6-4, 4.56 ERA) to try to break the skid. The young Colombian has been decent this season, but was hit hard last time out, giving up nine hits and six earned runs over six innings against the Pirates. But, prior to that, he was able to shutout the Phillies over seven innings en route to his sixth win of the season.
The Cubs will counter with righty Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.55 ERA) who had been tearing up the NL before the break. The 25-year-old hasn’t given up a run in over 20 innings (spanning three straight starts). Over his last two starts, he’s scattered just eight hits and two walks over 13.1 innings of work while striking out 12.
Neither team has much of a history against the opposing pitcher. The Cubs’ lineup has 52 total at-bats against Teheran and sports a .212 average, while the only Braves to see Hendricks previously are Nick Markakis (career 0-2) and AJ Pierzynski (career 1-2).
Betting-wise, Hendricks is on fire and an unknown commodity for Braves hitters; add in the fact that the Cubs are in a fierce Wild Card battle (currently one game up on the Mets for the final playoff berth) and the value looks to be with Chicago for tomorrow’s game, despite sitting as -126 road favorites.
Pick: Chicago Cubs (-126).
(Photo credit: bengrey on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)