Chicago Cubs (45-45; 44-44-2 O/U) vs. Atlanta Braves (44-45; 47-39-3 O/U)
MLB: Monday, July 17, 2017 at 7:35pm EST
Line: Chicago -144/Atlanta +134
The Atlanta Braves will clash with the Chicago Cubs as the clubs open a three game series Monday night from SunTrust Park. The Cubs will give the nod to 33-year old left-hander Jon Lester, and 26-year old right-hander Julio Teheran will take the mound for the Braves. This marks the first meeting this season, and each team won three games in the 2016 season series.
Lester Pulled in First Inning in Loss to Pirates
Jon Lester will make his 20th start of the season, looking to rebound from an ugly outing. Lester conceded a whopping ten runs (four earned) and lasted only 0.2 innings against the Pirates in his previous start before the break, and was charged with the loss to bring his record to 5-6. The veteran left-hander has been hit-hard in two straight starts and now owns a 5-6 record with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 108 innings logged. He features outstanding numbers in his career against the Braves, going 4-2 with a stifling 2.14 ERA in seven career starts. Freddie Freeman is 5 for 14 against Lester, while Matt Kemp is 1 for 5, and Nick Markakis is 19 for 83 with one RBI. Wilson Contreras continues to impress, posting a .378 average with three home runs and seven RBI’s this month. The 25-year old catcher is having an outstanding first full season behind the plate, hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI’s.
The Cubs are now averaging 4.64 runs per game, ranking them 18th in the Major Leagues, and own a .242 team batting average. The Chicago pitching features a solid 4.12 team ERA, good for 10th in the Majors.
Teheran Silences Nationals in Best Start of Season
Julio Teheran will take the mound for the 19th time of the season, targeting his third straight Quality Start. Teheran was tremendous in his previous performance before the break, tossing seven shutout innings to the Nationals, leading to his seventh win of the season. The Braves’ Ace is looking more like himself over his last two starts, however overall he is having a shaky season, posting a 4.79 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP to go with a 7-6 record in 103.1 innings pitched. He has fared well in his six career starts against the Cubs, going 2-0 with a strong 3.11 ERA. Kris Bryant is 0 for 5 against Teheran, while Anthony Rizzo is 3 for 15, and Addison Russell is 1 for 5. Ender Inciarte continues to excel at the plate, recording six RBI’s over his last nine games, and is hitting .333 this month. The 26-year old centerfielder is having a terrific season, sporting a .308 average with seven home runs and 37 RBI’s. Inciarte has driven in three runs in 13 career games against the Cubs.
The Braves are currently scoring an average of 4.69 runs per game, ranking them 16th in the Majors, and are hitting .265 as a team. The Atlanta pitching has been subpar, posting a 4.65 team ERA, placing them 22nd overall.
The Chicago Cubs are:
- 6-15 in their last 21 road games against a right-handed starter.
- 4-11 in their last 15 games against a right-handed starter overall.
The Atlanta Braves are:
- 6-0 in Teheran’s last 6 starts against the Cubs.
- 4-1 in Teheran’s last 5 starts in the first game of a series.
- 4-1 in their last 5 games against a left-handed starter.
I am taking the Braves in this matchup. Lester is struggling right now, surrendering 16 runs (nine earned) on 15 hits over his last two starts, and he owns a poor 4.96 ERA on the road this season. The Braves are hitting the ball well, averaging 5.5 runs over their last ten games so I am confident they can get to Lester. Furthermore, Teheran is in a groove right now, allowing a total of only two runs over his last two starts (13.1 innings), plus he features a 2-0 record with a 3.11 ERA against the Cubs, making the Braves a strong play in this one.