With the NFL season kicking off tonight in Philadelphia between the Falcons and Eagles, we have a small MLB card on Thursday night. There are only four games on the schedule, while the NFL takes the spotlight. Not everyone likes football, though, so if you’re looking for some baseball action we still have you covered. The Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks meet for an important battle. The Braves and D-Backs are both vying for a divisional championship in their respective divisions.
The Braves lost a close one to the Red Sox yesterday by a score of 9-8. It certainly hurts to come that close to beating a good team, but they had to accept getting swept in the three-game series. The Braves have lost six of their last eight games, both wins coming against the Pirates. If they continue to slip, the Philadelphia Phillies could be ready to pounce. The Phils didn’t seize an opportunity to get closer Wednesday, as they dropped a winnable game against the Miami Marlins.
Arizona were on a four-game losing streak before a 6-0 win against the Padres on the 4th. Getting swept by the Padres, albeit only two games, would have been an ugly look and the D-Backs were fortunate enough to get a split. After winning the opener against the Dodgers of a four-game series, the Diamondbacks had to wait for Tuesday to get their next win. They’ll see ace Zack Greinke to the bump, while the Braves counter with Anibal Sanchez, who has been able to find a massive resurgence of his career in 2018. Credit him for getting back on track and saving his career in Atlanta. Get our free Braves vs. Diamondbacks pick and the rest of our writeup below.
Atlanta Braves vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Pick
Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 2.98 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (13-9, 2.97 ERA)
Anibal Sanchez is one of the better comeback stories of the 2018 campaign. After it looked like he was on the brink of retirement in Detroit, Sanchez signed on with the Braves and has looked like a completely different pitcher. While we’ve been waiting for a period of regression, we haven’t seen much of it. What the Braves have to be praying for is that variance doesn’t kick them down low when it matters most in the postseason.
In any event, the Braves wouldn’t be in this position without the help of Sanchez. Just last season Sanchez finished with an ERA of 6.75 in 17 starts and 28 appearances with the Tigers. Prior to that year, he had a 5.87 ERA in 35 appearances. It isn’t like it was a bad start here and there, he was consistently bad. A chance of scenery was the best thing that could have happened to him, as he goes into Arizona with an ERA of 2.98 and 1.09 WHIP. He’s allowed just 2 runs in his last two starts. Impressive stuff for a guy who was starting at retirement in the face a season ago. If he can stay away from Paul Goldschidmt who is hitting .375 against him and Steven Souza Jr., hitting .444 with a long ball, he should be okay.
Problem being, okay might not be good enough against Greinke. Greinke has been sharp at home with a 2.16 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. To find the last time he’s allowed more than 2 runs in an outing in Arizona, we have to go all the way back to June 13th against the Pirates. In fact, that is the only time Greinke has been off at home. He’s allowed less than 3 runs in thirteen of fourteen outings on home soil. In nine of fourteen he’s allowed 2 or less runs. This should be a must-watch contest between the Braves and Diamondbacks on Thursday night. While there are profitable opportunities in the NFL opener night, consider the Diamondbacks if you want some late-night action in Arizona.