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July 11th 2014 - Posted at 3:00 PM ET

Take Chicago Cubs (-110) on the Money Line against Atlanta Braves risking 2%
(Arrieta and Wood must start)

The Atlanta Braves travel to Wrigley Field to open up a 3-game series with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the mound for Game 1 this afternoon. The Cubs made some major moves recently, shipping out pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. That has left Arrieta as the shining star in their rotation and he has certainly shined so far this season. Since joining the Cubs, he has been nearly unhittable, going 5-1 with a 1.78 ERA over 70.2 innings of work! What has been most impressive about Arrieta is not the fact that he is winning consistently but that he has been kept mentally strong and pitched strongly despite a lack of run support from his teammates. He has truly been a one man show at times nd has pitched so well that he's often needed just minimal support from his offense in order to win. He has been holding team to a combined .164 on base percentage and has struck out 24 batters in his last 20 innings of work! He is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in four starts at Wrigley Field this season and has also won his last 4 decisions. 

The Atlanta Braves may be 8 games about .500 this season, but they are also a team that severely struggles on the offensive side of the ball. The Braves are statistically one of the worst offensive teams in the league, currently ranking 29th in runs scored, 21st in team batting average, 24th in on-base percentage and 24th in slugging percentage. We expect those struggles to continue this afternoon against Arrieta. In 12 starts, Arrieta has given up 3 earned runs or more just twice this season! He has been the epitome of consistency. He has found his control and has baffled the batters of more offensively potent lineups than the one he will be facing this afternoon. The Cubs are 4-1 in Arrieta's last 5 starts.

Atlanta will counter by sending Alex Wood to the mound this afternoon. Wood is 6-7 with a 3.14 ERA this season and the Braves have struggled when the lefty has taken the mound this season losing 5 of his last 7 starts. Wood has also shown his struggles when starting in daytime games. In 10 games played in the afternoon, he is just 1-4 with a 2.80 ERA and allowing opposing teams an on base percentage of 2.91 this season. He has also shown his struggles on the road and we believe he is likely to be outplayed on the mound today. 

Even though the Cubs have underperformed this season, they have shown that they can be competitive in a series, at least in Game 1. Chicago has gone 6-2 in their last 8 series openers! The Cubs do have talent on their roster and are capable of putting runs on the board with players like Starlin Castro leading the team in batting average hitting .280 and Anthony Rizzo and Luis Valbuena hitting .277, and .251 respectively. 

If Arrieta continues to pitch the way that he has been, the Cubs shouldn't need much offense to come away with a win in Game 1. The Chicago Cubs aren't listed as the favorites very often and when they are, there is usually a good reason for it.   

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Braves are 2-5 in Wood's last 7 starts. 
  • Braves have lost 4 of their last 5 games. 
  • Jake Arrieta is 4-0 with a 0.89 ERA in his last six starts!

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