MLB Best Bets: Plus-Money Picks for Cubs vs. Braves

Jen Piacenti breaks down the Cubs vs. Braves matchup tonight featuring Shota Imanaga
May 7, 2024; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Shota Imanaga is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year
May 7, 2024; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Shota Imanaga is the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves (24-13) host the Chicago Cubs (24-17) tonight in what could be a pitching duel at Truist Park.

Let’s look at how to play this game for plus money tonight.  All odds according to DraftKings.

Reynaldo Lopez over 2.5 walks allowed (+120)

Lopez has been excellent for the Braves this season, pitching to a sparkling 1.53 ERA for Atlanta this year, including a mere 0.98 ERA when at home.  However, in his last outing, Lopez did allow four free passes to the Boston Red Sox. Though Lopez has only exceeded this number in two of six games pitched this season, I like the plus money for Lopez to walk three Cubs tonight. Chicago has taken 157 walks this season for an average of nearly four per game, which ranks fourth in MLB.   For May, that number is even higher- 4.45 walks per game. The Cubs also have the second-most walks this season vs. right-handed pitching. That’s better than both the Mets and the Red Sox, who were the teams Lopez faced when he walked 3+ batters. Lopez’s 9.9% BB rate is only in the 34th percentile of MLB, so I’ll take a shot at this payout.

Chicago Cubs ML (+124)

It’s difficult to bet against the Braves at home, but that’s exactly why we are getting plus money.  Atlanta is 13-4 at home this season, which is the best home record in MLB. They’re also starting a pitcher with a 0.98 ERA, as mentioned above. They are top-10 in AVG, OBP, OPS, SLG, and ISO vs. left-handed pitching, and their bullpen’s ERA is a run lower than Chicago’s.

So, there’s the full disclosure of why you shouldn’t bet on the Cubs. 

Here’s the reason why I’m going to: Shota Imanaga.

Shota Imanaga is 5-0 for the Cubs this year
Shota Imanaga is 5-0 for the Cubs this year / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Imanaga has been incredible this season for Chicago. His ERA this season is a mere 1.08. He has five wins and has yet to record a loss. He also goes deep into games, meaning potentially less exposure for the Braves to the Cubs bullpen. He’s striking batters out at a rate of nearly 10 per nine, and he’s also the favorite of the NL Rookie of the Year (+175) at DraftKings. 

Other fun bets: Shota Imanaga to record a win (+190) and over 5.5 strikeouts (+120). Imanaga has fanned 6+ batters in four of seven games this season, and though the Braves are not easy to strike out, they have never seen Imanaga before, and that advantage always goes to the pitcher. 

One more thing: Chicago’s bats have been hotter in May than Atlanta’s. The Braves have averaged only 3.44 runs per game this month, which ranks 25th in MLB. The Cubs’ 4.18 ranks 14th. 

So, there you have it. All the reasons why you should - and shouldn’t- bet in plus-money with me tonight. Why not have some fun and tail at least one? No risk it, no biscuit. 

Plus Money Props for tonight:

Cubs ML (+130)

Reynaldo Lopez over 2.5 BB allowed (+120)

Shota Imanaga over 5.5 K (+120)

Shota Imanaga to record a W (+195)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

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Jennifer Piacenti


In addition to being a fantasy sports and betting analyst at Sports Illustrated, Jennifer is a radio host for Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, and she hosts her own podcast, “Waiver Wired” on the Extra Points podcast network. Jennifer has been nominated for multiple FSWA awards for her NFL DFS video series. She’s a Scott Fish Bowl Finalist, and she finished third overall in the 2021 NFFC post-season mini. Jennifer is also a featured expert on MLB Network’s “Bettor’s Eye,” and a member of the esteemed Tout Wars, the fantasy baseball battle of the experts.