The Chicago Cubs (82-76) and Atlanta Braves (102-56) will wrap up their three-game midweek series tonight. First pitch for this showdown is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET at Truist Park in Cumberland, GA. Marcus Stroman (10-8, 3.88 ERA) will step on the hill for the Cubs and go up against Braves rookie AJ Smith-Shawver (1-0, 4.57).
Atlanta pulled off its second-straight come-from-behind victory over Chicago last night, winning 6-5 in extra innings in what was a banner night for the franchise. With one out in the bottom of the night, Marcell Ozuna blasted a solo shot to left-center field to tie the game at 4-4. Then down by one once again in the bottom of the 10th, Ronald Acuna Jr. drove home Kevin Pillar to tie the ballgame. He then nabbed second for his 70th stolen base of the year, becoming the first player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in a single season. Ozzie Albies then drove him home for a walk-off RBI single.
The victory officially clinched the Braves the best record in the National League and home-field advantage through the NLCS. Either a victory tonight or an Orioles loss would officially clinch them home-field advantage throughout the entire postseason. Meanwhile, for the Cubs, they are still tied with the Marlins for the third and final NL Wild Card spot heading into tonight’s game.
Atlanta enters this game as a -148 favorite on the moneyline over at DraftKings Sportsbook, making Chicago the +124 underdog. The run total is set at 9.5.
Cubs-Braves picks: Thursday, September 28
Out: SP Charlie Morton (finger), SP Max Fried (finger), SP Kolby Allard (shoulder), RP Nick Anderson (shoulder), RP Yonny Chirinos (elbow), RP Dylan Lee (shoulder), RP Daysbel Hernandez (forearm),
Out: 3B Nick Madrigal (hamstring), RP Michael Fulmer (forearm), RP Nick Burdi (abdomen), RP Ethan Roberts (elbow), RP Brandon Hughes (knee)
Marcus Stroman vs. AJ Smith-Shawver
Stroman is making just his second start since returning from a rib injury earlier in the month and has been limited in his number of innings. He lasted just three innings in the team’s 6-3 victory over the Rockies last Saturday, yielding three earned runs off five hits and a walk during his time on the mound. He’ll need to be particularly careful against Albies, who is 7-16 against him for his career.
Smith-Shawver was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett this morning and will be making his first start in the majors since July 30. The rookie righty has been dealing with a shoulder injury and hasn’t gone any more than three innings for the Stripers in the last month. That means this will most likely be a bullpen night for the Braves.
This looks like it could be a bullpen night for both ballclubs and that could open the door for both clubs to push their fair share of runs across. Both teams have floated around the top 10 in the league in both batting average and OPS over the past week, so I’ll lean towards the over.
Pick: Over 9.5
Chicago has let two winnable games figuratively and literally slip through its grasp over the past few days and it can’t afford any more blunders with its postseason hopes hanging in the balance. I think the Cubs realize this and they’ll make sure to jump on the Braves rookie early and carry their lead all the way through to the finish.