After splitting a doubleheader yesterday, the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals are right back at it today for game three of their four game set in Washington. The Nats took game one of yesterday’s double billing 8-3, and the Braves battled back to take game two 3-1. Both teams badly need the win today as they are both trailing the first place Philadelphia Phillies in the uber-competitive National League East Division. The Braves are a game and a half back and the Nationals are six games back.
Starting tonight for the Braves is Mike Foltynewicz (8-7 3.04 ERA), and for the Nationals, it is Tommy Milone (1-0 3.00 ERA). The Nationals are -114 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
What a difference a month can make for Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz. At the All-Star break, this kid was named to his first ever All-Star team and finished up the month of June with a 2.14 ERA on the season, one of the best marks in the National League. Still, at just 26 years old, Foltynewicz looked like just another one of these young baby Braves superstars.
Then came July where he really struggled. In July, he went 2-3 with a 5.72 ERA. He had a good bounce-back start against the New York Mets in his last start, where he pitched six solid innings of two-run ball and picked up the win. As bad as he struggled in July, it is a bit shocking to see him valued so low in this matchup against a guy in Tommy Milone for Washington that is making just his third start of the season.
Foltynewicz was one of the best the NL had to offer for the first three months of the year, and now he is picking up dog money against a team that is barely in contention with a starter on the mound that is far less than reliable? On top of it, the Braves have very quietly won seven out of their last nine games and are keeping pace with the first place Phillies as they are just a game and a half behind them for first place.
The Nationals will start Tommy Milone tonight. As I mentioned above Milone is only in the rotation due to the injury to Steven Strasburg and is making just his third start of the season. Milone hasn’t pitched badly in his two spot starts. He is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in starts against the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets. But I think he is going to see that facing this Braves team that is one of the best hitting teams in the majors, they are third in batting average, is a lot different than facing the Marlins an the Mets.
To make matters worse for Washington, they are without two of their best bullpen arms. Well, really, three of them. They traded away former All-Star reliever Brandon Kintzler at the trade deadline to the Chicago Cubs and now closer Sean Doolittle has hit the DL. The Nats third-string closer Kelvin Herrera, left last night’s game injured and won’t be available tonight either as he will go for an MRI.
So, you’ve got a Washington team that has an untested starter on the mound, and all their best bullpen arms missing, yet they are somehow favorites? Bad number alert! We have a bad number alert! I just don’t understand how you can have the Nationals as favorites in this one.
The Braves are the better team, they have the better starter on the mound, and they are playing better at the moment. I guess the fact that the Braves are on the road is what is pushing this line towards Washington? Well, guess what? The Braves have the most road wins of any team in the National League this season. They aren’t at all afraid of going into Washington and winning where the Nationals are only two games over .500 on the season. We saw that last night when they beat the very hard to beat Max Scherzer in his home ballpark.
So, I will back the Atlanta Braves as underdogs and feel like I should be the favorite. Give me the Atlanta Braves as small road underdogs at +104 tonight from the Nation’s Capital in game three!