Braves vs Cubs Prediction, Picks, and Odds for Today's MLB Game

AJ Smith-Shawver may be the Braves' top pitching prospect but he's struggled at Triple-A this season. He makes his 2024 debut vs. a healthy Cubs offense that should do damage. With Ben Brown toeing the rubber, Chicago's bullpen could also be busy.

Neil Parker - Analyst at
Neil Parker • Betting Analyst
May 23, 2024 • 12:05 ET • 4 min read
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This article contains predictions for an old game!

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Christopher Morel Chicago Cubs MLB
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There’s afternoon baseball at Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs hosting the Atlanta Braves in the finale of their three-game series.

The two teams have split the first two games, and both are sending youngsters to the hill, with AJ Smith-Shawver making his first start of the season for Atlanta, and Ben Brown countering for the Cubbies.

Here are our top MLB picks and Braves vs. Cubs predictions for the series finale on Thursday, May 23.

Braves vs Cubs prediction

My best bet
Over 8.5 runs (-117 at Pinnacle)

My analysis

Atlanta Braves righty AJ Smith-Shawver has struggled in Triple-A this season with a 6.10 ERA and 5.55 xFIP across 31 innings. He also struggled to the tune of 4.26 and 5.71 marks over 25 1/3 frames during his first stint in the majors last season. Simply put, despite being the club's top pitching prospect, the 21-year-old Smith-Shawver is a work in progress.

The Chicago Cubs are also trotting out their full lineup again with middle infielders Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner returning Tuesday, and the Cubbies continue to show off a patient approach at the plate with a third-ranked 10.0 BB% against righties. With Smith-Shawver issuing eight free passes across his past three minor-league starts, pushing his walk rate to 12.2%, I expect him to be pitching with runners on early and often.

Additionally, Chicago righty Ben Brown is making his first start since May 2, so this has the makings of a bullpen game for Chicago. The rookie has a solid 2.84 ERA and 1.16 WHIP across his four starts, but he’s also topped out at 89 pitches during his last start and won’t be stretched out enough to pitch deep into today's game.

The Cubs have also relied on their bullpen for eight innings of work through the first two games of this series, and Chicago relievers rank 20th with a 4.15 ERA for the season. I expect Chicago will put runs on the board against Smith-Shawver, and if Atlanta can’t match against Brown, the Braves will cause trouble for the Cubs bullpen.

Braves vs Cubs same-game parlay (SGP)

Over 8.5

Christopher Morel Over 1.5 total bases

Chicago third baseman Christopher Morel is mired in a miserable slump with a .111 batting average and .445 OPS across nine games since his last home run. He’s sporting an unsustainably low .125 BABIP during the funk, so statistical correction is ahead. 

There is also an edge in shopping for the best price with this same-game parlay. The +252 FanDuel odds provide a positive expected value of 9% compared to the +224 DraftKings odds.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

Braves vs Cubs odds

Braves vs Cubs live odds

Braves vs Cubs opening odds

  • Run line: Atlanta -1.5 (+130) | Chicago +1.5 (-155)
  • Moneyline: Atlanta -125 | Chicago +105
  • Over/Under: Over 9 (-110) | Under 9 (-110)

Braves vs Cubs spread and Over/Under analysis

  • There has been a notable move to the Chicago side of this moneyline, with the Cubs a -110 betting favorite at Pinnacle after opening as a +109 underdog.
  • I suspect the Chicago action is tied to Smith-Shawver making his season debut, and his confidence-shattering numbers in the minors.
  • The total has also moved at Pinnacle, with the opening 9.0 number down to 8.5, and the Over carrying the higher vig.
  • This is also an outlier number, with the majority of shops still hanging 9.0 on the board.

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Braves vs Cubs trend

Atlanta starter AJ Smith-Shawver has allowed three runs or more in each of his past three minor-league starts. Find more MLB betting trends for Braves vs. Cubs

Braves vs Cubs game info

Location: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Date: Thursday, 5-23-2024
First pitch: 2:20 p.m. ET
Braves starting pitcher: AJ Smith-Shawver
(1-2, 6.10 ERA) - Triple-A numbers
Cubs starting pitcher: Ben Brown
(1-1, 3.57 ERA)

Braves vs Cubs latest injuries

Braves vs Cubs weather

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