The Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves wrap up a three-game set at Truist Park on Thursday.
Atlanta is off to a poor start to the year as it defends its World Series title but star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is expected to make a surprise return to the lineup after being activated from the IL this morning. Oddsmakers expect it to pick up the win tonight with MLB betting lines opening with Atlanta as a -170 home favorite.
Here are our best free Cubs vs. Braves MLB betting picks and predictions for Thursday, April 28, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:20 p.m. ET.
Cubs vs Braves odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
This line hit the board with the Braves installed as -180 faves with the Over/Under at 8.5. Early money has come in on the home side shifting Atlanta's odds all the way to -220 while the total has stayed steady.
Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until first pitch and be sure to check out the full MLB odds before placing your bets.
Cubs vs Braves predictions
Picks made on 4/28/2022 at 12:05 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Cubs vs Braves game info
• Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
• Date: Thursday, April 28, 2022
• First pitch: 7:20 p.m. ET
• TV: Marquee Sports Network, Bally Sports Southeast
Cubs vs Braves betting preview
Drew Smyly (1-1, 2.45 ERA): Smyly is on his fifth team in the last four years and played for Atlanta last season where he benefitted from some great run support to go 11-4, despite a subpar 4.48 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. The 32-year-old began this season looking sharp with back-to-back starts without allowing a single run, but things fell apart against the Pirates last Friday when he surrendered six hits and four runs through five innings.
Kyle Wright (2-0, 1.06 ERA): The fifth pick in the 2017 MLB Draft finally looks like he has put it all together this year. Wright has allowed just two runs on 11 hits while racking up 26 strikeouts in 17 innings. He's fresh off an electric outing against the Marlins last Friday when he threw six innings of shutout ball and fanned 11 batters with just one walk.
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.
Cubs: Andrelton Simmons SS (Out).
Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr. OF (Probable), Eddie Rosario OF (Out), Luke Jackson RP (Out).
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Cubs are 21-53 in their last 74 games as an underdog. Find more MLB betting trends for Cubs vs. Braves
Cubs vs Braves picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The Cubs scored runs in the 10th inning to beat the Braves 6-3 last night. That improved the Cubbies' record to 8-10 in a rebuilding year with little expectations. On the other hand, the Braves are just 8-11 despite coming off a World Series title and sitting sixth on the futures odds board.
A big reason for that has been inconsistent hitting from the Braves, who have really missed Acuna, who was slashing .281/.392/.593 with 24 home runs and an MLB-leading 71 runs before tearing his ACL last July. The 24-year-old phenom had been targeting a May 6 return, but after going 7-for-19 with three stolen bases while rehabbing at Triple-A Gwinnett, he was given the call-up.
Even if Acuna takes limited reps, he should be a boost to a Braves lineup that ranks fourth in the majors in barrels per plate appearance and ranks seventh in hard-hit rate but hasn't been generating runs.
When it comes to pitching, Atlanta should be very excited by what it has seen from 26-year-old Kyle Wright so far this season. After struggling in limited appearances over the last few years, the former first-round selection has been lights out with a 0.76 WHIP and a .180 OBA in three starts.
Wright's velocity and command have improved and he'll need both to be sharp tonight against a Cubs lineup that leads the majors with 5.06 runs per game and ranks second in OPS (.764). That said, the Cubs expected slugging percentage sits at a modest .421 while the Braves' xSLG is .492 — a strong indication of regression for the Cubbies and inevitable improvement for Atlanta.
Former Brave Drew Smyly will toe the rubber for Chicago today. The veteran hasn't been effective since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017 and had a 5.11 FIP with an ERA+ of 99 in 126 2-3 innings with Atlanta last year. He had a couple of strong starts to begin this year but came crashing back to earth with an ugly outing last Friday.
Despite last night's victory, the Cubs are just 2-6 in their last eight games while the Braves are 17-8 in their previous 25 contests at home. Expect the home side to bounce back with a win today.
Prediction: Braves moneyline (-213 at Caesars)
Although we expect a little regression from the Cubs (especially with their scoring numbers inflated by a 21-run explosion against Pittsburgh last week), this is still a team that has been hitting the ball well, with early Rookie of the Year candidate Seiya Suzuki (slashing .327/.470/.635) leading the way.
We also expect some regression from Wright who has simply pitched at an unsustainable level even if he is much improved. As far as the Braves go, this is a team that is more than due for an offensive breakout.
They have a loaded lineup with Ozzie Albies, Marcel Ozuna, Austin Riley, and Matt Olson. With Acuna back in the mix, they'll be even more dangerous. Expect them to tee off on Smyly who had an expected ERA of 5.02 last year
Prediction: Over 8.5 (+100 at bet365)
We loved the Braves at -180 when the odds hit the board, but with the steam pushing that number to -220, we're looking for a derivative for a better payout. We think there's a decent discrepancy between these starters and are convinced that Wright is the real deal despite a small sample size.
Meanwhile, we're not sold on Smyly, and even though he looks better than he did when he first came back from Tommy John, he's still an unimpressive arm to trot out.
We'll back the Braves to have the lead by the midway point of the game.
Pick: First half Braves runline -0.5 (-140 at FanDuel)
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