7:20 p.m. ET Diamondbacks at Braves (-170 ML) O/U: 8.5
The 9-10 Diamondbacks travel to SunTrust Park to take on the 8-10 Braves on Friday night and kick off a three-game set this weekend. Arizona completed a three game sweep of the Reds on Thursday with a 14-11 win in 10 innings, winning all three games as hefty underdogs, including two in extra innings when they took advantage of a struggling Cincinnati bullpen.
After a two-game interleague series in the Bronx, Atlanta returns home where they split a two-game set against the Yankees, including a 4-1 win on Wednesday behind right-handed starter Ian Anderson who threw 6.2 scoreless innings.
About the Diamondbacks
Despite entering the season with low expectations, the Diamondbacks lineup has started the season strong. Even with star outfielder Ketel Marte on the 10-Day Injured List since the sixth game of the season, Arizona has been able to score 5.3 runs per game, which is tied for the second-most in all of baseball. The catalyst for all this offense has been veteran left fielder David Peralta, who is batting .385 with 10 RBI over his last 10 games after a slow start to his season.
Catcher Carson Kelly has been on fire all year, batting .351 with four home runs and 10 RBI in just 37 at-bats. Kelly had a crucial two-run home run to put the game out of reach in the 10th inning in Cincinnati on Thursday. Arizona ranks second in all of baseball with 26 home runs and they owe six of those to the team leader in long balls, third baseman Eduardo Escobar who has already surpassed his 2020 watermark of four homers.
The reason the Diamondbacks are under .500 despite all this great hitting is the pitching staff. Arizona allows 9.3 hits per game, which ranks last in Major League Baseball. They have also allowed the most home runs in MLB at 31.
About the Braves
Left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. has emerged as the favorite for the National League Most Valuable Player award in the first month of the season, batting .419 with an MLB-leading seven home runs. More impressive is he still leads the MLB and has not played in a game since Sunday night when he suffered an abdominal strain. Although the injury was not deemed serious enough to place him on the 10-Day Injured list, Acuna has been out of the lineup since incurring it and remains questionable for Friday night.
If Acuna Jr. cannot go, it will be the 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman who will need to lead the offensive attack. Freeman is starting to heat up, batting .292 in his last seven games with five home runs and 10 RBI for the season.
The Braves are tied with the Diamondbacks for second in the big leagues in home runs hit at 26, which should play a factor in this series considering Arizona gives up the long ball more than anyone. Atlanta’s pitching staff has been hot and cold to start the year but showed signs of improvement holding a strong Yankees lineup to four runs across two games earlier this week.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Diamondbacks||+1½ (-145)||+140||O 8½ (-120)|
|Braves||-1½ (+125)||-170||U 8½ (+100)|
The Pitching Matchup
The Diamondbacks are giving the ball to right-hander Luke Weaver for the series opener Friday night. Weaver has thrown 16.2 innings in three starts with a 3.78 ERA. Two starts ago he threw seven shutout innings against the Reds before the Nationals got four across in four innings of his following start.
Right-hander Huascar Ynoa will be toeing the rubber for the Braves for his fourth start of the year. Ynoa allowed one run in his first 12 innings this year before getting tagged for six in four innings of his last start on Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The 22-year-old former No. 10 prospect in the Atlanta organization is looking to be a staple in the starting rotation this season and should be ready to get the bad taste of his last start out of his mouth.
What’s the Bet?
The Diamondbacks are coming off an impressive sweep against the Reds, which puts them at 5-1 against Cincinnati this season. This means Arizona is 4-9 against teams not from the Queen City. Recency bias is going to play a factor in the public backing the Diamondbacks as an underdog here because they just won three straight as one, but that is not the best bet for this game.
The Braves just had an off day, while Arizona played its second consecutive extra-inning contest, which gives Atlanta a major advantage with a full bullpen at its disposal. The Braves are the better team with the deeper lineup and should have no problem exploiting a Diamondbacks pitching staff that cannot keep the ball in the yard. Ynoa is capable of keeping Arizona contained enough to let Atlanta’s offense win this game for them comfortably.
The Braves are looking to get hot and this series feels like the perfect jumping-off point. Lay the run line with Atlanta in this one and expect a blowout win for the home team Friday night.