MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves
Date/Time: July 17, 7:35 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.55) vs. Julio Teheran (6-4, 4.56)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Chicago -125
The youth movement began in the first half of the season for the Chicago Cubs and it has paid dividends. The Atlanta Braves were a surprise team in the first half before a five-game winning streak took them from a .500 team to a team seven games off the pace in the National League East. The Braves hope to snap that streak on Friday when they host the Cubs to open up the second half of the season.
These are two teams in very different situations as play resumes. The Cubs are a year ahead of schedule, as their young players have had instant success at the Major League level and their pitching staff has developed much faster than anybody anticipated. The Braves are looking around the clubhouse wondering who won’t be there on August 1. The Braves made a lot of transactions under the direction of interim general manager John Hart prior to the season, including the trade of Craig Kimbrel on the eve of the season. With no expectations to contend now, the Braves will sell off anything not nailed down by the Trade Deadline in order to build for the future.
If the playoffs started today, the Cubs would be in with the second wild card spot. As expected, the Cubs have been a streaky team this season. They have been shutout eight times, but also have shutout the opponent 11 times. It feels like one of those special seasons on the North Side with nine walk-off wins in the first half. As for the Braves, the way that they stayed above water without Freddie Freeman had to be a huge confidence boost for a team with a lot of young players.
Kyle Hendricks will start off the second half for the Cubs. Hendricks hit the break with three straight scoreless starts to improve his ERA to 3.55 with a 3.33 FIP and a 3.45 xFIP. Hendricks has missed more bats this season and has a ton of value as a middle of the rotation starter with an average strikeout rate and an above average ground ball rate. Some bad luck early in the season has turned around for him and the results are clearly evident. Hendricks was impressed in his 13-start stint in 2014 and appears to be a sustainable commodity for a team that has a ton of young position player talent and simply needed to find somebody that could consistently get outs.
On the other side, Julio Teheran has run into some unforeseen command problems. He has been a guy that has benefitted from some good defense with players like Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward in the past. With Heyward and Justin Upton gone, the Braves have regressed as a defensive outfield and that has hurt a fly ball pitcher like Teheran. The biggest things that have hurt Teheran this season are an increase in walks and home runs. Teheran had a 3.20 ERA in 2013 and a 2.89 ERA in 2014. This season, he has a 4.56 ERA with a 4.65 FIP and a 4.18 xFIP. Too many balls in the middle of the plate have been an issue and a similar start on Friday would be a big issue for the Braves against a talented, young lineup.
Pick: Chicago Cubs
Kyle Hendricks is a guy that I have been high on all season and the Cubs offense has developed quicker than anybody could have predicted. The Braves have a lot of guys sitting on pins and needles right now and that resonates through a team’s play at this time of the season. The Cubs got a chance to catch their breath after a great first half and should be ready to set the tone for the rest of the season on Friday.