MLB Odds & Picks for Cubs vs. Braves: Bet Atlanta’s Hot Bats to Rattle Kyle Hendricks (Wednesday, April 28)

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Ronald Acuna Jr. (#13) of the Atlanta Braves.

Cubs vs. Braves Odds

Cubs Odds +105
Braves Odds -125
Over/Under 9
Time 7:20 p.m. ET
TV FS1
Odds as of early Wednesday morning and via bet365.

After taking the first game of the series on Monday, the Atlanta Braves doubled-down on Tuesday by defeating the Chicago Cubs 5-0 for the second time in a row at home at Truist Park.

The Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr, Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman delivered strong performances, each player driving in runs in the Atlanta victory. Acuña Jr. added a solo home run in the fifth inning, and Albies contributed a pair of doubles.

The Cubs, meanwhile, managed just two hits off the bats of Nico Hoerner and Jake Marisnick.

Can the Braves make it three-in-a-row against this reeling Cubs squad, or will Chicago finally get on the board in this series on Wednesday night?

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Chicago Cubs

Kyle Hendricks will make his fifth start and is looking for positive momentum to overcome a challenging start to the 2021-22 season. Through 19 innings pitched, Hendricks has pitched to a 7.57 FIP and allowed a staggering 3.3 HR/9 thus far.

However, those numbers are somewhat deceiving. The majority of the output driving up Hendricks’ metrics occurred in a single outing: On April 18, Hendricks allowed seven earned runs — including four home runs — in just four innings. Unfortunately for Hendricks and the Cubs, that calamitous outing 10 days ago came against the same Braves team that Hendricks faces today.

Atlanta been one of the better teams in baseball against right-handed pitching. The Braves’ hitters have logged a .331 wOBA against right-handers, which ranks fifth-best in MLB.

If Hendricks struggles, then the Cubs must settle for fairly average production from their relievers. In fairness, Chicago’s bullpen bullpen has done a decent job of limiting damage, but overall it has not been overly imposing. The Cubs relief metrics have hovered near the league average, collectively pitching to a 4.34 xFIP and allowing 0.89 HR/9 to opposing batters.

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Atlanta Braves

Huascar Ynoa takes the hill for the Braves on Wednesday. Just as Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks faced Atlanta 10 days ago, Ynoa also faced this Cubs lineup earlier in the month. Furthermore like Hendricks, Ynoa also struggled in that matchup, allowing six earned runs — including three home runs of his own — in the same four innings on the mound.

However, Ynoa’s and Hendricks’ uncanny similarities begin and end there: Ynoa’s overall season metrics deviate markedly from Hendricks’ poor 2021 stat-line.  Despite Ynoa’s rough outing against the Cubs, he has still managed a strong 2.86 xFIP and an impressive 10.86 K/9. His .200 BABIP is also remarkable given the damaged he sustained in that previous outing against Atlanta.

While the Cubs did find success against Ynoa in their last meeting, Chicago’s lineup has struggled against right-handed pitching more generally. The Cubs’ batters have compiled a subpar .297 wOBA and .166 ISO against righties thus far.

The Braves bullpen, however, has not been the most reliable unit. Over their first 77 innings this season, Atlanta’s relievers have compiled a 4.47 xFIP: The seventh-highest mark in all of baseball. So, the Braves will rely on Ynoa to deliver at least six clean innings — a feat he’s achieved twice already in this young season.

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Cubs vs. Braves Pick

While the over may be the knee-jerk bet of choice given the 13-4 final result from these two starting pitchers’ first face off 10 days ago, the play here is on the Braves.

Ynoa has plus stuff, and he toes off against a Cubs team that has struggled against right-handed pitching so far this season. While he did struggle against this same lineup less than two weeks ago, he’s still managed a very impressive 2.86 xFIP on the season despite that outing. Therefore, it’s fair to judge Ynoa’s previous difficulties vs. Chicago as a poor reflection of his true ability.

The Braves’ bats have also been among the best in baseball against righties. That bodes well for Atlanta against Chicago’s Hendricks, who has already revealed his susceptibility to this very lineup. Not only has Hendricks struggled to the tune of a 7.57 FIP, but furthermore his ERA sits at 5.68. The disparity between his FIP and ERA suggests that he’s actually been somewhat lucky this season.

I’m comfortably betting the Braves in this one and will be doing so as long as it remains below -140.

Pick: Braves ML (-125); Play to -140.

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