Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves Preview and Pick – Ted Lilly vs. Derek Lowe

Chicago Cubs (25-25) Ted Lilly +121, 8 O/U at Atlanta Braves
(26-25) Derek Lowe -131, 8 O/U, Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia,
7:00 PM EST, Wednesday

by Badger of

Two National League teams still hovering around .500 get set to duel
again on Wednesday night in Turner Field when the Atlanta Braves send
their top right-hander Derek Lowe out in a crucial game-two of a
three-game set against the Chicago Cubs and their lefty Ted Lilly.

The Braves won the opener of the series last night in dramatic
fashion, coming back from a five-run deficit on the Cubs bullpen for
a 6-5 win in 12 innings. Jeff Francoeur hit a two-run homerun in the
9th-inning off of Cubs closer Kevin Gregg to tie the game and send it
into extra frames, and Chipper Jones won it on a 12th-inning single
to cap the Braves inspiring comeback.


With momentum on their side the Braves hand the ball to their ace
Lowe (6-3, 3.49 ERA), who will be looking for his seventh win of the
season tonight. Lilly (6-4, 3.50) is also going for his seventh win
of the season, so tonights starters should both be pitching with
extra motivation.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Lowe and Atlanta as -140 favorites on
the moneyline and its only corrected itself down a little to its
current number of Atlanta at -131. Chicago and Lilly are +121
underdogs on the dimeline, with the over/under total listed at 8
across the board at all of the offshore sportsbooks on the Internet.

Lowe has been a hard-luck loser the past few starts for the Braves,
going 1-2 with a 2.82 ERA and sub-1 WHIP (0.94). He gave up an
uncharacteristic 10 hits in just seven innings last time out against
the Diamondbacks, but only gave up three runs in a 5-2 loss and has
only given up more than three runs once in his 11 starts (Atlanta is
7-4 in those starts).

Lilly is equally strong for the Cubs, as he has won six of his 10
starts for the Cubbies and sports a nice 53-52-17 hits-to-strikeouts-
to-walks ratio over 64.1 innings of work. Hes a workhorse too, as
hes thrown at least six innings in eight of his starts and went five
in the other two, so he could give the beleaguered Cubs bullpen a
much-needed break tonight.

Lilly was great against the Braves last year, winning two of the
Cubbies six-win sweep of season series of the Braves. Both of them
were won slugfest-style though, as Lilly was the benefactor of 11-7
and 10-5 beatdowns of a hurt Tom Glavine last season and it was less
about how well he pitched.

Both pitchers will be facing offenses that rank in the lower third of
the National League at runs per game. The Cubs have struggled a lot
in every facet lately, as they have lost 11 of their last 15. The
Braves are hoping last nights victory the stole off the Cubs
normally reliable bullpen tandem of Marmol and Gregg is the start of
a great 10-game home stand.

Like in most games, the betting trends are going all over the place
in any direction you could want. A few that jumped out at me were:
Atlanta is 4-1 in Lowes last five starts as a favorite and 5-1 in
the last six as a home favorite; the over is 4-0 in the last four and
6-0-1 at Turner Field; home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth is a
pitchers ump with the under going 6-0-1 in his last seven games
calling balls and strikes.

Badgers Pick: Last nights win was huge for the Braves, because
Lilly and Lowe are set for a duel tonight. This is one game where
both sides (Lowe as just a -131 favorite; Lilly as valuable +121 dog)
have an argument for which is the best wager. My gut says Lowe, my
mind says Lilly, so Im going with the safest bet both. Take the
under of 8.