Atlanta Braves (65-72; 66-59-4 O/U) vs. Chicago Cubs (71-60; 61-63-7 O/U)
MLB: Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 8:05pm EST
Line: Chicago -221/Atlanta +197
The Chicago Cubs will host the Atlanta Braves in the first game of a four game series Thursday evening from Wrigley Field. The Braves will give the nod to 24-year old left-hander Sean Newcomb, and the Cubs will reply with 27-year old right-hander Kyle Hendricks. The Cubs recorded a three game sweep over the Braves last month.
Newcomb Shaky in No Decision Against Rockies
Sean Newcomb will make his 15th start of the season, looking to rebound from a shaky outing. Newcomb allowed four runs and lasted just 4.2 innings against the Rockies last time out, and finished with the no decision in a game the Braves lost. The rookie southpaw is having an encouraging rookie campaign, posting a 4.36 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP to go with a 2-7 record in 74.1 innings of work. He faced the Cubs last month and it did not go well, as he allowed five runs in 5.1 innings and took the loss. Brandon Philips has been very consistent at the plate, collecting at least one hit in all but four games this month, and is riding a 13 game hitting streak heading into Wednesday’s action. The career .276 hitter is having a steady season, sporting a .293 average with 11 home runs and 51 RBI’s. Philips is 3 for 8 one RBI against the Cubs this season.
The Braves are currently averaging 4.54 runs per game, ranking them 19th overall, and are hitting .262 as a team. The Atlanta pitching now owns a 4.78 team ERA, placing them down at 25th in the Majors.
Hendricks Eyes Fourth Straight Quality Start
Kyle Hendricks will take the mound for the 19th time of the season, seeking his second straight win. Hendricks was terrific in his previous start, allowing two runs in seven innings to the Phillies, and earned the win to bring his record to 5-4. The 6-foot-3 right-hander has been outstanding this month and is now sporting a 3.45 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 101.2 innings of work. He has yet to face the Braves this season, and has allowed five runs (four earned) in 12.2 career innings against the Braves. Matt Adams is 1 for 13 against Hendricks, while Matt Kemp is 3 for 13, and Nick Markakis is 3 for 8 with three RBI’s. Anthony Rizzo continues to drive in runs at a rapid pace, collecting another nine RBI’s over his last four games, and 27 on the month. The 28-year old first baseman is having a strong season, currently hitting .279 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI’s. Rizzo is 2 for 12 with one RBI against the Braves this season.
The Cubs are swinging the bats well and are now averaging 4.98 runs per game, good for seventh in the Majors, and feature a .252 team batting average. The Chicago pitching is sporting a 4.04 team ERA, placing them ninth in the Major Leagues.
The Atlanta Braves are:
- 1-5 in their last 6 games against the Cubs.
- 2-8 in Newcomb’s last 10 starts.
- 2-9 in their last 11 road games against a right-handed starter.
- 4-12 in their last 16 games against a right-handed starter.
The Chicago Cubs are:
- 4-0 in Hendricks’ last 4 Thursday starts.
- 5-0 in their last 5 home games.
- 6-1 in their last 7 games in the first game of a series.
I am taking the Cubs on the run line in this contest. Newcomb conceded five runs in 5.1 innings to the Cubs in his lone start against them, and he continues to struggle with his control, so the Cubs should put some crooked numbers on the board. Furthermore, Hendricks has only allowed a total of seven runs over his last four home starts (23.1 innings), so he should limit the Braves offense. The Cubs last five wins have all come by at least two runs, so I am confident they can take this one by a few runs as well.