August didn’t start out as well as July ended for us. We came up short yesterday in our first pick of the new month when we backed the Milwaukee Brewers as big +145 underdogs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. I mentioned in my pick that I saw this as a coin flip type of game that could go either way and after watching the action, that seemed to be a pretty good assessment.
The Brewers held a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning where the Dodgers tied the game up at two runs apiece. It was then the Brewers trailing by two runs in the eighth inning when they tied the game up and sent it to extra innings. In the extra frames, the Dodgers were able to take the game on a Yasmani Grandal walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Any time a game goes into extra innings, it is clearly a tight affair that could go either way. The ball didn’t bounce our way late last night but being on the side getting a bunch of dog money, we were certainly gambling on the right side of things. For today’s pick, we will look to get right back on track as we take a look at the game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.
The Atlanta Braves are in New York City Thursday for game one of a four-game series with the Mets. The Braves are hoping they can use this soft matchup to propel themselves back into first place in the National League East Division, where they trail the Philadelphia Phillies by just a half of a game entering play today. For the Mets, they are on pace for their most losses in a season since 1993.
Starting tonight for the Braves is All-Star Mike Foltynewicz (7-7 3.04 ERA), and for the Mets, it is Jason Vargas (2-6 8.36 ERA). The Braves are big -150 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Citi Field in New York City.
I am not sure what to make of this Atlanta Braves team at the moment. They made a couple of trades at the deadline, one to pick up meh starter Kevin Gausman from the Baltimore Orioles and the other was to pick up slugger Adam Duvall from the Cincinnati Reds. Duvall has quietly been one of the better power hitters in the league as he has averaged thirty home runs and a hundred RBIs in each of the last two years.
The Braves are expected to have his bat in the lineup today, and they could really use the shot in the arm. The Braves went 10-13 in the month of July and saw their lead in the NL East vanish. Luckily for the Braves, no team in the division seems to be taking control, and they trail the Phillies by just half of a game for the division lead. The Braves are looking to get back to their winning ways from earlier this season in August, and they couldn’t have a much softer landing spot to kick off the month than tonight against the Mets.
Mike Foltynewicz was enjoying a breakout season this year for the Braves in the first half of the year. He finished the month of June with a 2.14 ERA on the season and was named to his first All-Star team. However, the wheels seem to have fallen off somewhat here recently. In the month of July, Foltynewicz made five starts and went 2-3 with a 5.72 ERA. He allowed as many home runs in July, six, as he did in the first four months of the season combined.
His strikeout numbers and walks have remained consistent so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that maybe he is getting a little bit unlucky. Home runs tend to be a bit random when you are looking at a small sample size like this. Foltynewicz should enjoy tonight as he faces a Mets team that is twenty-eighth in the majors in runs scored and dead last in batting average. If there were ever a great spot to turn things around it would be against the Mets today.
There aren’t a lot of good things you can say about how Jason Vargas has pitched this year. He has been bad, really bad. Vargas has made ten starts on the year and has yet to make it past five innings of work in any single start. His ERA is 8.36, which would be the highest amongst all starters if he had pitched enough innings to qualify.
Vargas hasn’t won a start since May, and the Mets are just 2-8 in his ten starts this season. This Braves team is top ten in the majors in basically every offensive category, and that was before they picked up masher Adam Duvall. I expect the Braves to hit him early and often tonight.
This game has blowout written all over it. Foltynewicz has struggled some over his last four starts, but we saw the first four months of the season what this guy is capable of, and I expect him to bounce back down the stretch, and that starts tonight against the Mets.
Vargas has been terrible all season long, and I would be shocked to see him make it past the fourth inning tonight against what should be a free-swinging Braves team. When you look at the money line, it is fairly steep at -150. But when you look at the run line, it is offering a much more attractive -110. As a general rule, I won’t take a run line laying odds, but every once in a while there is some low hanging fruit that needs to be picked.
Jason Vargas and this Mets team are the definition of low hanging fruit this year. They don’t just lose a lot, they get blown out a lot. I think the Braves are poised to go on a big run this month with their new additions and I see them winning this game today easily. Give me the Atlanta Braves laying a run and a half on the run line at -110 tonight in game one from Citi Field!