We have been on fire this week as we have run our record to 3-1, with all three winners coming as outright money line underdogs. Finding ways to back underdogs profitably is the best way to long term success betting on baseball and as summer starts to heat up, so are we! Today we will get right back at it, looking for more value as we head to the Bay Area where the San Francisco Giants host the Atlanta Braves in the series finale.
The Atlanta Braves are San Francisco Thursday for game four of a four game series with the Giants. Atlanta took two of the first three games of the series and will be looking for the series win tonight. The Braves have dominated the series thus far as they hold a 16-7 run differential through the first three games.
The Braves are looking to win their fourth consecutive series after taking series wins against the Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month. For the Giants, they have been struggling with consistency, as they have lost seven out of their last eleven games. As the Giants quickly fallout of contention in the crowded NL West Division, rumors are starting to swirl that many of their best players are up on the trade block.
Starting for the Braves today is veteran Kevin Gausman (2-3 4.31 ERA) and for the Giants it is Madison Bumgarner (3-4 4.21 ERA). The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. The Braves are small -115 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 PM PST from Oracle Park in San Francisco.
Coming into the season, most didn’t expect a lot from the San Francisco Giants. And here we are in late May, and the Giants are in last place, and trade rumors are surrounding most of their higher value players. Most of those rumors are focused in on tonight’s starter, Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner is a former World Series hero, with three rings to his credit, and lots of teams would love to add him to their rotation. The problem with Bumgarner is that he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2016, and that in limited action so far this season, he just hasn’t been very good.
If the season were to end today, his 4.21 ERA would be the highest of his career. He has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last three starts, and looking back even further, he has given up four runs or more in four out of his last eight starts. But, shockingly, Bumgarner is still just twenty-nine years old still. I know it seems crazy that he is still in his twenties as he has seemingly been around forever, and that makes him a prime candidate to get shipped off to a contender at the deadline. It will be interesting to see how well Madison performs tonight against one of the better hitting teams in the majors.
All the talk in the last two weeks in Atlanta has been about the debut of yet another young Braves superstar in the making, Austin Riley. Riley was a first-round draft pick back in 2015, and at just twenty-two years old, was fast tracked to the majors, where he has enjoyed some huge success already. Riley is slashing .367 in eight games with the big-league team, with four home runs. In this series, he has already racked up two home run and five RBI.
It seems like the Braves have an endless supply of under twenty-five superstars, and Riley has sure added some excitement to this already exciting Braves lineup. The Braves are even considering trading former MVP Josh Donaldson to get Riley more playing time. When you are knocking a guy like Donaldson out of the lineup, you are some kind of player.
Atlanta will start Kevin Gausman today as they look to close out the series with the win. When the Braves brought Gausman over last season at the trade deadline it was a bit of an underwhelming addition. But Gausman has acquitted himself quite well in his time with the Braves, and at twenty-eight years old, is the elder statemen of this Baby Braves team.
Gausman has an ERA of just 3.51 in his time with Atlanta, and after a slow start to the year has really honed things in recently. In May, the Braves have won three out of his four starts and he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in three out of those four starts. In his last two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs in twelve innings of work.
In his career, Madison Bumgarner has always been great at home. But this season, he has really struggled in San Francisco. His home ERA stands at 4.70, a full run higher than his road results. He has recorded just one win in five home starts on the year. And that has been the case for most of the Giants this season as they are just 10-14 at home and they have actually played better on the road this season.
This is a tight game, and I hate betting against Bumgarner, but right now, we are catching him at the right time. And even if he does manage to pitch well, this Giants team can’t hit a lick. The Giants are twenty-seventh in the majors in batting average, runs scored, home runs, and slugging percentage. That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence that they are going to be able to score runs to support Bumgarner.
So, I will look to fade the Giants tonight at home. As a general rule, I would much rather find a spot to back an underdog and pick up some juice, but this spot just offers too much value. Give me the Atlanta Braves as small road favorites today in the series finale in San Fran!