Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves Preview and Pick – Betting Odds

Chicago Cubs (0-0) Carlos Zambrano, at Atlanta Braves (0-0)
Derek Lowe, Turner Field, Atlanta, Ga., 4:10 PM EST, Monday, April
5th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Cubs +118/Braves -128
Total: 8.5

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The Chicago Cubs travel to the state of Georgia to open the 2010
Major League Baseball regular season against the Atlanta Braves in
Turner Field Monday, in a game that will be shown as part two of the
Opening Day doubleheader on ESPN.

It also stands to be a good showdown of aces out to prove themselves
after poor 2009 seasons, when Cubs righty Carlos Zambrano duels
Atlanta righty Derek Lowe.

The early line overnight opened with the Braves and Lowe getting the
edge on the moneyline, with Atlanta listed at -130 at most
sportsbooks and the public-heavy Cubs and Zambrano as charming +120
underdogs on the dimeline.

The over/under total opened at 8, but has quickly moved to 8.5 at
just about every offshore sportsbook on the Web, with the exception
of SportsInteraction which still lists the total at 8.

As mentioned above, neither Zambrano nor Lowe had a 09 season to

Zambrano finished with just nine wins and the Cubs were just 18-10 in his 28 starts for his lowest totals since his rookie year in 2002. He
also spent several stints on the DL in a year that motivated him to
supposedly rededicate himself to his craft in the offseason.

Lowe went 15-10 and the Braves were 21-13 in his 34 starts, but his
ERA shot up over 1.5 points from the previous year (to 4.67) and he
also had an unusually high WHIP (1.52). Both were enough to cause
Braves management to put Lowe in trade talks in the offseason, a move
that irked Lowe at the time.

Well see if it was enough to irk Lowe and his sinkerball off to a fast start this year. The righty isnt particularly strong in April,
going 20-21 in career with just a 1.90 SO/BB ratio, his lowest all
year) so hes not missing as many bats early in the year. Lowe hasnt
been very strong during the day either (39-41 in 90 career day
starts; his 4.29 ERA and 1.37 WHIP are his highest non-dome totals),
so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to his Opening Day nod.

Lowe has done well versus the Cubs in the past however, limiting them
to a low .300 OBP and a really low .279 BAbip (batting average on
balls in play) in his nine career starts (2-1, 3.17 ERA). The Cubs
Derek Lee has been a hard man for Lowe to get out over the years (.
455 OBP in 30 AB), and both Mike Fontenot (4-for-8, 2 2B) and Geovany
Soto (2-for-5) have done well in short samples.

Zambrano on the other hand is a fast starter usually, going 15-9 in
his career in April over the years. But his career numbers during the
day (3.72 ERA, 1.355 WHIP) are all the highest totals of
all of his splits, and in 11 career starts versus the Braves he is
just 2-3 with a 4.48 ERA, a near 1.5 WHIP (1.463) and a.347 OBP.

The Cubs ace has had trouble with the heart of the Braves order in
the past, with Chipper Jones (.414 OBP in 23 AB), Brian McCann (7-
for-12) and Troy Glaus (.364 OBP, 1.00 SLG with 2B, 2 HR in 10 AB)
all getting some good swings at the sometimes hot-headed righty.

The Braves took four of the six meetings between these two teams last
season, including three of the four played at Turner Field in July.
Zambrano and Lowe both lost in their respective starts last season,
Zambrano in a 2-1 game versus Javier Vazquez and Lowe in a 3-2
decision against Ted Lilly, but only Zambranos was played at Turner.

All four of the games at Turner last year came in under the total.

Badgers Pick: I know that most of the stats line up with Lowe and
the Braves getting the upper hand, but something in my gut tells me I
cant count out the fiery Zambrano on Opening Day. Ill take the Cubs
as dogs at +120 in a game that I also feel with play under the total
of 8.5.