MLB Picks: Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs 4/18/21

by | Apr 18, 2021 | mlb

Atlanta Braves (6-9) vs. Chicago Cubs (6-8)
When: 7:05 p.m., Sunday, April 18
Where: Wrigley Field, Chicago
Moneyline: ATL -105/CHC -112 (BetNow)
Runline: Braves +1.5/Cubs-1.5
Total: Off

Starting Pitchers: Bryse Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

Early Struggles

This wasn’t supposed to happen to Atlanta, which came one game away from winning the NLCS over the Dodgers last year and almost certainly would have played for the World Series had they had access to a healthy Mike Soroka.

Missing Power

The over-cashing would be a big change for the Indians, who have been hitting the under in large part because they can pitch well but can’t hit much of anything. Against the White Sox, the Indians managed to score nine runs for the entire series and still came away with two victories because their pitching got the job done yet again. As a result, the under has cashed in four of the Tribe’s past five games, and Cleveland is 9-3 to the under on the season.

In large part, that’s because Cleveland’s pitching is excellent, but the only team hitting worse than the Indians right now is the Cubs. As a team, the Tribe is hitting just .195, and among teams that didn’t have games postponed by COVID, only Kansas City has fewer plate appearances than Cleveland. The Indians don’t have much offense to speak of and basically have to win every game they play with their pitching. The fact that Cleveland is 7-5 is both a testament to the resiliency of the pitching and the weakness of the AL Central.

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Long Balls Run Both Ways

Cincinnati might be pounding the ball at home, but the Reds aren’t exactly keeping the ball in the park when it’s their turn to pitch. With 18 long balls given up, Cincinnati has given up more home runs than anyone in the majors except Detroit, and that’s problematic. Cleveland doesn’t hit much, but when the Indians do hit, there’s a good chance that the ball leaves the yard entirely, as the Tribe has sent 15 balls over the fence.

On the other side of the ledger, the Indians are hoping that their pitching continues to pick up their poor hitting. Cleveland holds opposing batters to an average of just .180, tops in the majors. If the Tribe can keep pitching that way, they’ll have a chance to win every night regardless of how many runs they do or do not score. Given that Cincinnati hasn’t faced a lefty starter all year, that trend might continue.

Betting Trends

  • The Indians are 19-9 in their past 28 games against the NL Central.
  • The Indians have lost four of their past five series openers.
  • The Reds are 13-3 in their past 16 games in Cincinnati.
  • The Reds have won four of five home games against a team with a winning record.
  • The under is 4-1 in the Indians’ past five.
  • The over is 5-1 in the Reds’ past six home games.
  • The Indians have won seven of eight in Cincinnati.
  • The under is 6-2-1 in the past nine meetings.

Weather Report

This will be a mild day, with temperatures sitting at 60 degrees and wind blowing at around six miles per hour heading west-northwest. The wind shouldn’t be strong enough to be a problem.

Dan’s pick

Cleveland’s bullpen is likely to make up for the Tribe’s issues at the plate, or at least keep the Indians in the game long enough to feast on a Cincinnati mistake or two. The bottom line is, the Indians have the better pitching by a good distance, and good pitching usually neutralizes bad hitting. Plus, Cleveland has done very well in recent years against Cincinnati, and playing here shouldn’t bother this Indians side.

The Tribe are playing well right now, and the Reds are too inconsistent. Give me Cleveland.

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