Tuesday night will feature the second of a four-game series between division leaders as the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves (46-33) take on the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs (43-35) at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were able to take the first one 8-3 despite tempers flaring after Tyler Flowers and Willson Contreras got into it after Flowers felt Contreras overly enjoyed his home run. Still, the Cubs came away victorious and will be looking to take the second game as well on Tuesday. The pitching matchup for this one will feature Max Fried (8-3, 4.03 ERA) pitching for the Braves against the Cubs’ Adbert Alzolay (1-0, 2.25 ERA). First pitch for this matchup is scheduled for 8:05 pm ET.
The moneyline for this one comes in at the Atlanta Braves -115 and the Chicago Cubs +105.
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, both of these teams are solid, but the Braves come out ahead. They are currently ranked fifth in the majors, averaging 5.47 runs per game (5.03 on the road). For the Cubs, they come in at 12th with 5.05 runs per game (4.78 at home).
On the pitching side, it is the Cubs that come in ahead. They currently rank sixth in the majors in earned run average with a staff ERA of 3.91 (3.19 at home). For the Braves, they come in at 12th with a 4.23 ERA (3.99 on the road).
When you put it all together, both of these teams come in in the top 10 in terms of run differential. The Cubs rank sixth with a run differential of +59 while the Braves come in at eighth at +49.
Increase The Lead
At 5.5 games up in the NL East on second-place Philadelphia, the Braves certainly are in good shape; however, they also know that there is a lot of season left and will look to even up the series with the Cubs on Tuesday. To do so, they will turn to lefty Max Fried. On the season, Fried is 8-3 in 15 starts with a 4.03 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and opponents are hitting .275 against him. In 82 2/3 innings, he has allowed 89 hits, 37 earned runs, 11 home runs and has struck out 76 versus 22 walks. In his last outing, a 7-2 win over the Mets, Fried went six innings, allowing eight hits, one walk, and two earned runs while striking out six.
On the offensive side, Freddie Freeman has been one of the best hitters in baseball this season. He is currently hitting .315/.402/.601 with 21 home runs, 61 runs batted in and 59 runs scored. Another solid player has been rookie Austin Riley, who is hitting .279/.329/.585 with 12 home runs, 34 runs batted in and 29 runs scored in just 147 at-bats. Throw in players like Ronald Acuna Jr, Ozzie Albies and Nick Markakis, Atlanta’s offense doesn’t have a whole lot of weaknesses.
Cubs Looking To Maintain NL Central Lead
While the Cubs also hold first place in their division, their lead is certainly less than the Braves. Knowing they will have a dogfight with the Brewers and Cardinals, among others in the division, the Cubs know every game is essential. Trying to take the first two games of the series, the Cubs will send Adbert Alzolay to the mound Tuesday. In his debut on Thursday, Alzolay threw four innings, allowing one hit, one run and striking out five. He will look to carry over that dominance in his first start in the majors.
Offensively, the Cubs have had a lot of solid performers this season, but two of the best have been Willson Contreras and Javier Baez. For Contreras, he is hitting .294/.388/.561 this season with 16 home runs, 45 runs batted in and 36 runs scored. For Baez, he is hitting .287/.325/.554 with 19 home runs, 52 runs batted in and 51 runs scored. Like the Braves, though, they are deep. With players like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in the fold, they are solid top to bottom.
Braves Take Game Two
This one could go either way, and if Monday’s showed anything, it is that the Cubs enjoy hitting at home. For me, though, it comes down to the pitching. Adbert Alzolay may end up a fantastic starter for the Cubs, but there is something about this being his first start that could cause some issues. For Fried, even though he has calmed down from his hot start, he pitched well in his last game and had a lot of success his first go-round with the Cubs. Back in April, he only allowed one hit in six scoreless innings. Again, a lot has changed since that game, but I still like the Braves to take this one when it is all said and done. For my money, I am taking the Braves at -115.