I tried to get TSG readers some elite value by backing the Arizona Diamondbacks by two runs last night. They were at home against the Milwaukee Brewers with Zack Greinke on the mound, so I felt really confident they’d snap their six-game losing streak. They did, but ended up winning by just one run (2-1).
The loss kept me from getting back to .500 and dropped my MLB picks to 3-5 on the year. The good news is I’ve nailed some solid value picks in the early going, so even with the shaky record, you should still be doing okay overall.
Wednesday offers up a weird slate, as there is a ton of day action that has already gotten started or will be in play very soon. That has me looking mostly at the night games and with two off of the table already (check out Jason Gray’s picks for tonight), I’m finding myself falling in love with a showdown at SunTrust Park between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.
Gray backed the Braves at home last night, but they lost a tough fight (3-2). That wasn’t a bad play, but I’m turning right back around and looking at the Cubs, who need to keep getting wins as they sit just one game out of the top spot in the NL Central.
Chicago Cubs (-1.5, +150) @ Atlanta Braves (+1.5, -170) Total: 9.5 (-120/EVEN)
You’re losing value if you take the Braves here, as they were a better price last night. I think both sides of this matchup still offer solid value, though, as a -110 Moneyline makes this a virtual pick’em. If that’s the take, I can’t help but side with the Cubs, who still feel like the superior squad.
Atlanta isn’t to be taken lightly, of course. Ozzie Albies has really busted out this year and Freddie Freeman is always a threat to go deep. The Braves added a masher in Jose Bautista to their lineup recently, too, while Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte are flat out ablaze right now.
The only problem is they face Tyler Chatwood, who has looked like a different pitcher with the Cubs and has been especially tough when not pitching in the windy Wrigley Field. I don’t know if facing a ton of powerful lefties in this park is any easier, but the fact that this guy has given up just one home run on the year (at home) can’t be understated.
Chatwood is not an elite arm, but he’s not giving up more than a .208 batting average no matter where he hurls it these days and he keeps the ball on the ground in general. This is far from a safe spot for him, but I think he can manage this game enough and induce a lot of soft contact in this one.
On the other side is Brandon McCarthy, who has been in terrible form lately (14 runs allowed over his last two starts!). If you’re worried about the park factor and power for Chatwood, you should really think long and hard before backing the Braves here.
I’m sure it’s possible McCarthy could round back into his previously solid form, but he is just a tough guy to trust right now, as he’s giving up walks, allowing a ton of contact and not making batters miss. The worst part is he hasn’t been good at home, where he’s offered up an absurd .397 batting average and a 7.07 ERA through three starts.
Insert the Cubs, who bring a ton of power to the table and rank inside the top 10 in batting average, runs and RBI against right-handed pitching. Chicago also has the fifth fewest strikeouts against that side of the plate, which possibly sets this up as a nightmare outing for McCarthy.
Collectively, the pitching here is pretty average, both teams can mash it and the park gives way to the long ball. I think you can chase the Over here (-120) with confidence, but the Cubs feel like a very nice bet and you’re getting slightly more value there. There aren’t many settings where you get Chicago at -110, so I’ll attack that price tonight.