Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees – MLB April 20

6:35 p.m. ET – Braves at Yankees (-135) O/U: 8.5

The 7-9 Braves travel to the Bronx to take on the 5-10 Yankees on Tuesday night. The Braves jumped on the Cubs in the first inning on Sunday Night Baseball to take a 6-0 lead and never looked back as they clinched a series win with a 13-4 victory. Meanwhile, the Yankees lost five games in a row, most recently getting swept at home last weekend by the Rays in a series where they were only able to score seven runs total. The 5-10 start is the worst for a Yankees team since 1997. Keep in mind, though, that the 1997 Yankees ended up winning 96 games.  

About the Braves

Atlanta Braves LogoThe Braves are led by 2020 National League Most Valuable Player Freddie Freeman. He has five home runs and ten RBI in the early going this season, but is batting a lowly and uncharacteristic .232. The true superstar of this Atlanta team is undoubtedly Ronald Acuna Jr., who is batting .419 with seven home runs and 16 RBI out of the gate this season. Unfortunately for Braves fans, Acuna is questionable to play on Tuesday night with an abdominal strain he suffered on Sunday.

Acuna has been a large reason why Atlanta ranks sixth in the major leagues in runs per game with 5.1 and first in home runs this year with 25. The issue for the Braves is that the pitching staff allows the fifth-most runs per game at 5.2. Atlanta opponents are batting .261 through 16 games, which is the second-highest opponent batting average in the big leagues. The Braves’ star-studded batting lineup can cover for a lot of imperfections in the pitching staff, but if Acuna misses an extended period of time this team could be in trouble.  

About the Yankees

New York Yankees LogoThe Yankees have far too much talent on their roster to be playing the way they are currently. It is the offense that has let them down in the early going. New York is scoring only 3.7 runs per game, which ranks 24th in the major leagues. New York’s pitching staff has a 3.60 ERA so far this year, which is top 10 in the major leagues, so the surprising early-season failures clearly fall mostly on the hitters.

The 2020 American League batting title winner DJ LeMahieu has not been the problem this year, as he is batting .286 out the gate. Star right fielder Aaron Judge has been solid with a .255 batting average and four early-season home runs. The issues are everywhere else, with Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, Rougned Odor, and Aaron Hicks all batting below .200. Outfielder Jay Bruce got off to such a horrible start to the year that he retired after Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

The bright spot for the Yankees is that they do not play a team currently above .500 until May 11, so now is the time to get the train back on the tracks.

  

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Braves +1½ (-185) +155 O 8½ (-115)
Yankees -1½ (+155) -135 U 8½ (-105)

The Pitching Matchup

Atlanta will be handing the ball over to veteran right-hander Charlie Morton on Tuesday night. Morton and the Yankees should be familiar as he spent his last two seasons with the Rays. The 37-yearold hurler has looked his age early on this season with a 1-1 record and a 4.77 ERA across 17 innings pitched in three starts.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon is toeing the rubber for New York, looking to go five innings for the first time in his short Yankees career since coming over this offseason. Taillon has been shaky to start the 2021 campaign, pitching a combined 8.1 innings in his first two starts with a staggering 7.56 ERA. 

What’s the Bet?

New York is going to be fine this season, but at the current moment, they should not be favored against anyone with Taillon on the mound. The Yankees have won only two of their last 10 games and are feeling the early season heat from the New York media. No other team would face the kind of pressure for how they are playing before the end of April, and that leads to the best bet of taking the Braves on the Moneyline at +115.

The Yankees have struggled too much at the plate this year to back them with a pitcher who has looked lost on the mound of late. If you flipped the jerseys, the Braves would be -145. Do not bet on New York because they are New York. Take Atlanta as the Yankees’ struggles are likely to continue Tuesday night. 

The Bet
Atlanta Braves

*Odds courtesy of MyBookie

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.