A pair of teams off to slow starts try to turn things around when the Chicago Cubs host the Atlanta Braves on Friday in the opener of a three-game series. Chicago (5-7) and Atlanta (5-8) each advanced to the postseason after winning division titles in last year's abbreviated season, but the Cubs are sitting in fourth place in the National League Central while the Braves hold down the same spot in the NL East. Both teams enter the series having lost four of their last five.
First pitch is at 2:20 p.m. ET at Wrigley Field. Chicago sends right-hander Zach Davies (1-1, 11.05 ERA) to the mound to oppose righty Kyle Wright, who is making his season debut. Atlanta is the -111 favorite (risk $111 to win $100) on the money line at William Hill Sportsbook, while the over-under for runs scored is eight in the latest Cubs vs. Braves odds. Before making any Braves vs. Cubs picks, check out the MLB predictions and betting advice from the SportsLine Projection Model.
This model, which simulates every pitch of every game 10,000 times, had a banner 2019 season, the league's last full schedule, returning more than $1,400 on its top-rated money-line and run-line picks. It is off to a fast start in 2021, going 15-7 on all top-rated MLB picks through two weeks, returning over $500. Anyone following it has seen huge rewards.
- Braves vs. Cubs money line: Atlanta -111, Chicago +101
- Braves vs. Cubs run line: Atlanta -1.5 (+140)
- Braves vs. Cubs over-under: 8 runs
- ATL: The Braves were 47-34 away from home in 2019
- CHI: The Cubs are 1-4 in their last five games following an off-day
Why you should back the Braves
The Braves appear to have some momentum following a dramatic win on Thursday. Atlanta appeared en route to a fifth consecutive defeat after giving up two runs in the top of the ninth Thursday, but answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to squeeze out a walk-off, 7-6 victory over Miami. Despite their record, offense has not been the biggest issue for the Braves. Thursday's win marked the sixth time in the last seven games that the club has scored at least five runs.
Outfielder Ronald Acuna continued his sensational start to the season by collecting a pair of hits and swatting a two-run home run in Thursday's victory. It was the major league-leading seventh blast for Acuna, who is riding a seven-game hitting streak and already has accumulated eight multiple-hit games. The 23-year-old from Venezuela is batting .552 (16-for-29) and has scored 13 runs over the last seven games.
Why you should back the Cubs
Chicago is playing the first of nine at home following a six-game road trip and had a day off to clear its collective heads. An offense that has produced only nine runs in the last five games and is dead last with a woeful .163 batting average could be catching a break with a last-minute change of starting pitchers for Atlanta. Left-hander Drew Smyly was scratched Friday morning in favor of Wright, who was 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA in 2020.
While Davies' bloated ERA is certainly cause for consternation, he had a decent season debut with 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball against Philadelphia and has fared well against Atlanta. The 28-year-old has made two career starts against the Braves, posting a 1-0 record and 1.93 ERA. Chicago's pitching staff managed to keep Acuna in check during his 41-homer 2019 season, holding him to a .217 batting average (5-for-23).
How to make Braves vs. Cubs picks
SportsLine's model is leaning over on the total, as the teams combine for 9.5 runs in the simulations, and it also says one side of the money line has all the value. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Braves vs. Cubs? And which side of the money line has all the value? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the money line to jump on, all from the advanced model that returned more than $1,400 in 2019.