MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves
Date/Time: July 19, 5:05 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Jake Arrieta (10-5, 2.66) vs. Shelby Miller (5-5, 2.38)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Chicago -140
If the Chicago Cubs are going to make the playoffs, the starting rotation will have to be great. On Saturday, Jon Lester was great. On Sunday, the Chicago Cubs turn to Jake Arrieta as they look to win their series over the Atlanta Braves. The Braves will counter with Shelby Miller, who has been one of the biggest silver linings to what has been a tough season. The Cubs and Braves meet in a rare 5:05 p.m. ET first pitch for a Sunday night.
Jon Lester took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on Saturday, which was good because the Cubs offense only managed four runs after scoring just two on Friday. The young Cubs have had some offensive slumps throughout the season, with a lot of hitters learning on the job. Lester has been victimized by bad batted ball luck this season, but he was on point on Saturday. Manny Banuelos threw another solid game for the Braves, who seem to be stockpiling some intriguing young pitching, including Sunday’s starter, Shelby Miller.
The Cubs turn to Jake Arrieta to win them the series. Arrieta has been outstanding since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013. That has been one of the best trades in recent memory for the Cubs. The Orioles do not allow their pitchers to throw a cutter and that has been Arrieta’s best pitch with the North Siders. After posting a 20-25 record with a 5.46 ERA and a 4.72 FIP over 358 innings with the Orioles, Arrieta took off for the Cubs. He has a 24-12 record with a 2.75 ERA and a 2.80 FIP in 330 innings as a member of the National League. His numbers are better across the board and this season has been no different. Arrieta has averaged better than a strikeout per inning and has a 2.66/2.59/2.71 pitcher slash.
Shelby Miller was a part of the package that netted Jason Heyward for the St. Louis Cardinals. Miller has been excellent this season with a 2.38 ERA, a 3.08 FIP, and a 3.63 xFIP. Miller has abandoned some of the strikeout prowess that he had earlier in his career in order to refine a cutter that has been a tremendous weapon for him. After being a fly ball guy with a lot of swing-and-miss earlier in this career, Miller has pitched to contact more and has done an excellent job of keeping the ball down. Miller’s 50.2 percent ground ball rate is easily the best of his career and so is his 0.48 HR/9 rate.
The Cubs have had plenty of offensive difficulties against right-handed pitching on the season, due in large part to a lack of power. Their slugging percentage against righties is among the lowest in the league, which is surprising because of their young power hitters. The Braves don’t hit for a whole lot of power overall, but they have a lot of left-handed bats, so they are a decent contact team against righties. The problem for them in this game is that it’s very hard to string hits together against Jake Arrieta.
MLB Prediction: Atlanta Braves
I’m a believer in Shelby Miller’s arsenal changes for this season and his ability to keep the ball down. The betting market has been against Miller over his last few starts, but I think there’s some more strikeout upside there and some good command.