We had our bet canceled yesterday for the second time this week as the rain canceled the game between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins in the third inning. We had jumped on the under nine and a half runs, and while both teams had scored early, I still liked the play. But what can you do, in the immortal words of one Nuke Laloosh, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.
I won’t let the wet weather put a damper on what has been a nice run here in the last week. We have won six out of our last eight bets and are back on the hunt for more value today. For today’s pick, we will head to Washington DC where the Nationals host the Atlanta Braves.
The Atlanta Braves are in Washington Saturday for game two of a three-game series with the Nationals. The Braves took game one last night, shutting out the Nats 5-0, behind a stellar start from Mike Soroka. Soroka pitched six innings and allowed just one hit and no runs. Soroka was able to outduel Nationals ace Max Scherzer who lasted just five innings and got touched up for three earned runs and picked up the loss for his efforts.
The win was a big one for Atlanta as they are very close to locking down the National League East Division title. After last night’s win, they now hold a nine and a half-game lead over the second-place Nationals for the division crown with just a handful of games left on the schedule. If they can win even one of these next two games against Washington it will all but secure the division title.
The Braves are also chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best overall record in the National League, and the top seeding and home-field advantage in the playoffs that goes with it. The Braves trail the Dodgers by four games for the number one seed in the league.
For Washington, while the division title is very likely out of reach, they are in prime position to make the playoffs as they currently occupy the first wild card slot in the NL. The Nats hold a two and a half-game lead over the Chicago Cubs for the first wild card, with the Brewers, Phillies, Mets, and Diamondbacks all lurking within five and a half games back. The Nationals have a tough remaining schedule as they have games against the Braves, Indians, Phillies, and Cardinals left on the slate, so they are going to need to find a way to beat good teams if they want to be playing in the postseason.
Starting today for the Nationals is Austin Voth (1-1 4.00 ERA), and for the Braves it is Mike Foltynewicz (6-5 5.00 ERA). The game total over-under is set at ten runs. The Nationals are -118 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM PST from Nationals Park in Washington DC.
Mike Foltynewicz was really good for the Braves last season. He won double-digit games and had a sub-three run ERA. His netted nearly four full wins above replacement (WAR). But this year has been a struggled for the still just twenty-seven-year-old right-hander. It got so bad earlier in the year that he was sent to the minors to try and figure things out.
After getting called back up to the big leagues, he has looked a lot like his old self as his results have been greatly improved. In seven starts since rejoining the team, he is 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA. In the month of September, he is 2-0 with an ERA of just 0.75 in two starts. After really struggling early in the year, the Braves have now won the last ten times that Foltynewicz has pitched. I know that wins aren’t the greatest stat to track a pitcher’s success, but at the end of the day, that is what we are here to do, win baseball games, and Foltynewicz has done a great job of giving his team a chance to do just that in each and every start.
Austin Voth had a cup of coffee with the Nationals last season, pitching twelve and a third innings with an ERA of 6.57. He has been up and down this season between triple-A and the show, and has had limited success. In six appearances, five of them starts, his ERA is 4.00. Unlike Foltynewicz who seems to always win, the Nationals are 1-5 in games where Voth has pitched this season.
Surprisingly enough, of his six appearances, Voth has already faced the Braves twice, with mediocre results. He has pitched a combined ten innings and has given up four runs, including four home runs. The Nationals lost both games.
What a strange number this one is. The Braves are clearly the better team. After they win tonight, they are going to be ten and a half games better than Washington on the season. And when you look at the starting pitching matchup, it certainly seems to favor the Braves as well. Yeah, Foltynewicz struggled a lot early in the season, but he seems to be back on track now. And it was this very same Washington team that rocked Foltynewicz and sent him to the minors a couple of months ago, and he is going to be excited to be able to get his revenge.
And when you look at Voth, this kid just isn’t ready to beat a talented team like the Braves. He has faced them twice already this year and lost both times. I am not sure why the books think that he is all the sudden going to be a different guy than he was a week ago when he lost to the Braves. So, to see the Nationals as favorites just feels like a bad number.
I guess the fact that this game is in Washington is what is making the Nationals favorites? And while the Nats are much better at home than on the road this season, the Braves have the best road record in the National League, and they aren’t remotely afraid of going into Washington and winning games. We saw that last night, and that is exactly what I see happening again today. Give me the Atlanta Braves as road underdogs in game two today from the Nation’s Capital!