|CHC (-130) @ caesars|
My 9* Late-Breaker is on the Chi Cubs at 7:08 ET.
The Atlanta Braves won the NL East in 2020 (35-25), giving them THREE straight division titles. Atlanta then took a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS, before LA rebounded to win the series in seven games. The Chicago Cubs opened the current season having made the playoffs in FIVE of the last six seasons. Neither team has started well in 2021, as the Braves are 6-9 (last-place in the NL East) and the Cubs are 6-8 (4th-place in the five-team NL Central).
The Braves won Friday's game but the Cubs crushed the Braves 13-4 on Saturday. The rubber match of this three-game series goes Sunday from Wrigley, as Bryse Wilson starts for Atlanta and Kyle Hendricks for Chicago. Atlanta has three starting pitchers sidelined, Max Fried (hamstring), Mike Soroka (shoulder) and Drew Smyly (forearm), so Wilson will make his season debut after being called up from the alternate site Saturday morning. From 2018-20 he made 15 appearances (seven starts) for Atlanta, posting a 5.91 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and .306 BAA.
Hendricks went 16-8 with a 2.13 ERA (0.98 WHIP) back in 2016 and while he's never matched those numbers, he's been an effective starter. His ERAs have been 3.03, 3.33, 3.46 and 2.88 the last four seasons. He struggled in his 2021 debut (3 IP / 3 ERs) but on April 7, pitched six shutout innings vs Milwaukee (he took a no-decision). He was set to pitch Tuesday but experienced some COVID-19 symptoms and was held out. "He's feeling much better," manager David Ross said Saturday. "Unless something changes, Kyle will pitch Sunday."
Hendricks owns a 2.46 ERA in five appearances (four starts) vs the Braves and I love the pitching matchup of him over the inexperienced Wilson. Chicago entered Saturday's game last in the majors in batting average (.166), on-base percentage (.267) slugging percentage (.307) and runners in scoring position (.084). However, the Cubs had 14 hits (including six HRs) in their 13-4 win over Atlanta on Saturday (run output was a season high). Cubs won't need that kind of output here with Hendricks on the mound but there is no reason NOT to expect them to 'beat up' Wilson. Cubs Win! Cubs Win!