We picked up a nice underdog winner last night when we backed the Atlanta Braves on the road against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This Pirates team had only scored a total of five runs in their previous five games, including getting shutout three times, and I liked Braves starter Kevin Gausman’s chances of shutting them down.
And that is exactly what happened. Gausman pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits, and the Braves blew the Pirates out, 6-1. Pittsburgh managed to score one meaningless run in the ninth inning to bring their run total to six runs in their last six games. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made a couple more strange moves in yesterdays game, having Starling Marte and Josh Harrison both come off the bench, and it’s clear that Hurdle is looking to make a statement to his team right now, and he doesn’t care if that means his team is going to lose some games.
With the win, the Braves extend their first-place lead in the National League East Division to two games over the Philadelphia Phillies. With the loss, the Pirates fall to what is looking like an insurmountable six and a half games back for the second wild-card in the NL. The teams match up again tonight in the series finale, and that is right where we will focus for today’s pick.
The Atlanta Braves are in Pittsburgh Wednesday for game three of a three-game set with the Pirates, looking for the sweep. The Braves have held the Pirates to a combined one run through the first two games of this series as they took a commanding series lead. Pittsburgh is hoping they can salvage one game of this series as they have now fallen to seventh place in the wild-card race in the NL.
Starting tonight for the Braves is their opening day starter, Julio Teheran (8-7 4.24 ERA) and for the Pirates, it is Trevor Williams (10-9 3.53 ERA). The Pirates are -111 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
The Atlanta Braves look to be fully recovered from the four-game sweep they suffered at the hands of the Colorado Rockies in their last series. The Braves have already won this series and are hoping to sweep tonight in game three. Atlanta will turn to their most tenured starter tonight to get the job done in Julio Teheran.
Teheran has been a little all over the place this year for the Braves. In August he has been pitching well though as he has a 2.89 ERA in three starts. Teheran has allowed three runs or fewer in six out of his last seven starts. He hasn’t been dominating by any means, but he is doing plenty to give this powerful Braves lineup a chance to win games. He should enjoy his matchup tonight with a Pirates team that just can’t seem to hit the ball right now.
Pittsburgh will send out Trevor Williams to try and steal game three. Williams has very quietly been one of the best pitchers in the National League in the second half of the year. Since the start of July, Williams has an ERA hovering right around two runs and hasn’t allowed a run in four of his seven starts over that time.
The problem for Williams has been the same problem that has plagued last night’s starter for Pittsburgh, Ivan Nova, run support. In August he is just 1-2 despite an elite 1.42 ERA in three starts. In those two losses, he has gotten a combined one run of support. It is hard to win games when your team just doesn’t ever score any runs.
While this problem has been really bad recently with the power outage in Pittsburgh, it has been one that has plagued Williams all season long. Ten times this season, the Pirates offense has supplied two runs or fewer in support of Williams. You can see that scoring trouble reflected in Williams 10-9 record.
How are the Pittsburgh Pirates favored in this game? I know that Trevor Williams has been great, but they just don’t score when this kid pitches. And right now, this Pirates lineup is a joke. The Pirates are spiraling quickly out of contention, they have lost seven out of their last nine games, and are averaging just one run a game over the last week.
I don’t think I would want to back this team right now against anybody. And the Atlanta Braves are certainly better than just anybody. This is a first-place team that has the second most wins of any team in the National League right now. And they have one of the better lineups in the majors.
I see this game playing out a lot like the first two games of this series. The Pirates are going to struggle badly to produce on offense, and this Braves team is going to use timely hitting to score just enough to sneak out of Pittsburgh with the sweep. I’m seeing this as a low scoring affair, something along the lines of 3-2 Atlanta.
And I feel that even though we are getting dog money, that we are certainly on the right side of this bet. So, I will take yet another outright underdog and feel like I am the favorite. Give me the Atlanta Braves as small road underdogs again tonight in game three at +101!