Atlanta Braves -113 at Philadelphia Phillies +105 (Total: 8.5)
Ben Sheets (3-1, 1.46 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (6-6, 3.63 ERA)
It’s unusual August territory for the Phillies and their fans. As opposed to gearing up for a post-season run, the Phillies find themselves in last place and have jettisoned expensive veterans like Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence (a trade deadline addition just a year ago). They enter tonight playing good baseball (winners of four of six since the trade deadline), but it is hard to see them surging too much more with the huge holes in their lineup.
Meanwhile, Atlanta is just doing what they always do; quietly playing steady baseball and positioning themselves to be in familiar position – October playoff participants. A big part of their steady results has always been their solid pitching, and particularly a unique knack for finding pitchers that struggled in other places or appeared to be past their prime and squeezing a few more great years out of them. One of their latest gems will be pitching tonight, Ben Sheets.
Sheets was out of baseball and all but forgotten. However, after nearly two full years away from the game and nearly five years removed from his last full season with double-digit wins (2008 with Milwaukee), Sheets has been electric in his four starts, posting a 3-1 record and a 1.46 ERA. He has struck out 23 batters and walked only six, and aside from the three innings he allowed in the first inning of his last outing, he has been spotless. Philadelphia is not the most pitcher-friendly ballpark, but with their depleted lineup and Rollins likely sitting out tonight, Sheets should have a good chance to keep his sterling comeback story rolling. In a non-related trivia fact, he was the winning pitcher in the 2000 Olympics gold medal game, hence the picture on the post, and keeping with the Olympic spirit of the week.
Atlanta has owned the Phillies this season, sweeping the last two series and push their win streak to six games against them. In those six games they have outscored them 29-10. Four of the six games they won they won by more than two runs.
The trends and the pitching matchups both favor Atlanta. The Braves, a slight favorite tonight on the road (but still a very good value) are 10-2 in their last 12 games as the favorite. They are 14-3 in their last 17 games against a team with a losing record, meaning they have handled their business when they are supposed to; no overlooking weaker opponents and dropping series they should win. Meanwhile, the Phillies have been the exact converse; losing six of thei last seven games as a home underdog, and faring equally poorly with Worley on the mound, who is just 1-5 as a home underdog this season.
I like Atlanta to handle their business on the road and to push forward the five-game (seven wagers overall) winning streak on thesportsgeek.com
Free Pick: Atlanta Braves to WIN -110