Atlanta Braves +116 at Miami Marlins -126 (Total: 8)
Mike Minor vs. Josh Johnson
You don’t need a subscription to Showtime and to eagerly watch every episode of The Franchise to pick up on the fact that it’s been a disaster of a season in Miami. From the outset and Guillen’s “pro Castro” comments and ensuing maelstrom it has been one disaster after another, though now, thankfully, the carnage is mostly confined to the atrocious play on the field.
The Marlins just finished getting swept by the Pirates and now they move along to face another playoff contender, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves meanwhile just split a four game set with division leading Washington and are now 6-4 since the All Star break. Their offense had some troubles in the Washington series, but most teams do. The biggest bright spot for the Braves is the addition of Ben Sheets, who has yet to allow a RUN in his two starts since returning from a nearly two-year absence from the big leauges. If he can continue to be good, this is a team that can legitimately represent the National League in the World Series.
Mike Minor will look to build on his solid recent outings and keep the Braves on a winning track tonight. His season statistics aren’t pretty but recent performances have been more in line with the immense talent and potential most see in Minor. He has won two of his last three starts and earned a no-decision in the other, and has an ERA in the mid-threes. I like him to have another solid outing tonight in Miami.
For the Marlins, even staff ace Josh Johnson is struggling these days. It is concerning, not just that Johnson has struggled but that his velocity is way down, a possible harbinger that these “struggles” are in fact a bit more than just “struggles”; rather they are symptoms of some bigger problems. In his last three outings he has allowed 14 runs in just 16 2/3 innings. It’s tough to win many ballgames allowing that many runs, and it puts even more pressure on an already-beleaguered bullpen.
The Marlins entered the season as the trendy pick to win the NL. As of today, they are absolute sellers in the annual salary dump that is the MLB trade deadline (Heath Bell anyone? Anyone? Please???) I like the Braves to capitalize on some good momentum and handle Johnson and the Marlins with ease tonight in Miami. To get them at plus money is a wonderful bonus…
Free Pick: Atlanta Braves to WIN +116