It would be hard to find two better teams in August. Sure, it’s only three days in, but the 69-37 Atlanta Braves are the best team in baseball and have won two straight including a 12-5 win yesterday. However, that’s nothing compared to what the Chicago Cubs have done this month. The Cubs are 3-0 and outscored the Reds 41-18 in those three games. Chicago is 56-53 only 2.5 games behind Milwaukee who leads the NL Central.
For Game 1 of this three-game weekend series the Chicago Cubs will send Kyle Hendricks to the mound at Wrigley Field to make his 14th start of the year against Max Fried who is returning from injury. Hendricks is 4-5 with a 3.49 ERA and Fried is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA, but hasn’t pitched since May 5.
Fried is rusty and the Cubs are red hot, but the Braves are still favored in the first of three in Chicago.
Braves vs. Cubs odds, run line and total
Braves vs. Cubs prediction and pick
It’s really tough to know what the Braves are going to get from Max Fried in his return to the mound. He hasn’t pitched since early May and though he has a stellar ERA from his time on the mound at the beginning of the season, he struggled a lot in that final outing. It’s tough to return to a big league mound and that’s compounded by the fact he’s facing the hottest offense in baseball.
We know what we’re going to get from both offenses. The Braves boast the best lineup in baseball and that hasn’t changed all year, but lately the Cubs have been even better. Over the past 30 days the Cubs have scored the most runs in baseball and 50 more than the Braves though they did have four more games than Atlanta over that stretch. Chicago also has an OPS 20 points better.
Chicago even has the better team ERA over that 30 day stretch and five more wins. Obviously it’s a relatively small sample and Atlanta is better, but Chicago might present some value right now.
There’s no perfect recipe for facing Atlanta’s offense and no easy path through Ronald Acuna Jr. Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, and Austin Riley, but Kyle Hendricks could be the right type of pitcher. He doesn’t have impressive velocity, but he never gets hit hard and has only given up three homers this year. I think Hendricks tip-toes his way around the Braves bats in this one and Chicago stays hot.
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