The first installment of this three-game series gets underway tonight with the NL East’s Atlanta Braves hosting the NL Central’s Chicago Cubs.
Chicago remains enthralled in a tightly-contested NL wild-card race as it currently holds the last spot with just a one-game advantage over the Miami Marlins.
Will the Cubs help their cause, or can the Braves pad their already impressive win total? Find out in our free MLB picks and predictions for Cubs vs. Braves on Tuesday, September 26.
Cubs vs Braves odds
Cubs vs Braves predictions
Left-hander Justin Steele takes the mound for the Chicago Cubs and should be a good candidate to back on Tuesday. Although Steele may not catch Blake Snell in the NL Cy Young odds race, he has still put together a tremendous campaign.
Through 29 starts, the southpaw is 16-5 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He also ranks in the 60th percentile in strikeout rate and 81st percentile in chase rate, and that is the avenue in which we will back Steele tonight.
Currently, you can find his strikeout prop as low as 4.5 at FanDuel, a total he has surpassed in each of his past 10 starts. We are catching such a low number because the Atlanta Braves boast one of the best lineups in baseball, but Steele still surpassed this number in each of his past two starts despite allowing six earned runs in both of those outings.
So, even if he gets shelled, he can still rack up the punchouts. Again, there is no denying Atlanta’s dominance at the dish — it ranks first in the league in runs scored per game, hits per game, batting average, slugging, OPS, and home runs.
However, the one area where they do not crack the Top 10 is K% when facing left-handed pitching over the past two months. Looking at Tuesday’s projected starting lineup, five of Atlanta’s nine hitters own a strikeout north of 22% against lefties this year.
Through 44 career plate appearances against Steele, this current Braves lineup possesses a fade-worthy 25 K%. The left-hander faced Atlanta once earlier this season, collecting seven strikeouts in less than six innings of work.
We must lay a bit of juice here at 4.5, but I would rather do that than take the Over at 5.5, which is where the line is at for most other books at the time of this writing.
My best bet: Justin Steele Over 4.5 strikeouts (-150 at FanDuel)
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Cubs vs Braves same-game parlay
While Steele should be able to hold his own against Atlanta’s lineup, right-hander Bryce Elder should also limit the damage against Chicago on behalf of the Braves. Through 30 starts, Elder is 12-4 with a 3.63 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
With that said, Steele still paces him across the board both statistically and analytically. Atlanta does own the hitting advantage, but Chicago’s lineup is also strong and ranks in the Top 8 in runs scored per game, OBP, and SLG.
Massive game for the Cubs, and Steele will step up when they need him most.
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Cubs vs Braves moneyline and Over/Under analysis
The Braves opened as a -152 favorite and remain at that price at the time of writing. I expect this line to shrink solely due to Steele, but the buy-back will likely be quick considering that fading the Braves at home is not usually something that the market likes to move on.
That brings us to the total, which opened at 9.5 and also remains at that number. I would be shocked if the market moves this total to double digits in a Steele/Elder matchup, even with these two strong lineups. So if you like the Under, now is probably the time to buy in.
There have been nine or fewer total runs scored in seven of the past nine meetings between these clubs.
Trend to know
Steele has recorded at least five strikeouts in each of his past 10 starts. Find more MLB betting trends for Cubs vs. Braves
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Cubs vs Braves game info
|Location:||Truist Park, Atlanta, GA|
|Date:||Tuesday, September 26, 2023|
|First pitch:||7:20 p.m. ET|
Justin Steele (16-5, 3.00 ERA): His past two starts likely ended his Cy Young bid, but we should still expect Steele to close out the season strong well. He certainly will have his hands full against Atlanta, but he picked up the win in his start against them earlier this season, recording seven punchouts in that outing.
Bryce Elder (12-4, 3.63 ERA): Elder followed up a strong rookie campaign in 2022 with an All-Star nod this year. A candidate for regression all season, Elder has mostly staved off his poor underlying metrics. However, that could come to fruition on Tuesday against a very capable Chicago lineup.
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