Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves MLB Pick – May 20th

Corey Kluber getting dog money? It sounded enticing yesterday when I saw it, and I just couldn’t pass it up. And we won yet another money line underdog bet. Kluber had about the toughest task you can ask of an American League pitcher this year. He had to play on the road at Houston, the league’s best team, that was starting their recent Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, Dallas Keuchel. But, as I noted in my pick yesterday, Corey Kluber is a guy that can win you a game all by himself and I expected at least seven innings of stellar work from him.

And that is just what we got. Kluber pitched seven innings and allowed just two earned runs on six hits while striking out ten. It was a vintage Kluber performance, and the Indians were able to steal the game on the road. Dallas Keuchel continued his rough patch of not pitching that poorly but never winning. Keuchel pitched five innings and gave up four earned runs and lost his sixth decision of the year, that is now one more loss this year than he had in all of last year. If I were given the opportunity to back Kluber as an underdog again, I am not sure there is a scenario where I would pass it up. He is just too good, too often, not to take a position on him getting dog money. For today’s bet, I will look at the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins.

The Miami Marlins are in Atlanta Sunday for game three of a three-game series with the Braves. Miami took game one 2-0, behind a strong start from Dan Straily. Straily pitched seven innings of three-hit shutout ball, and the Marlins picked up a rare win. In game two of the series, the Braves struck back in a big way as they exploded for eight runs and blew out the Marlins 8-1. The Braves got a solid start from Sean Newcomb, and both Freddie Freeman and Kurt Suzuki homered to power the home team.

Today in game three the Braves will start their ace, Julio Teheran (4-1 3.49 ERA) and the Marlins will counter with Wei-Yin Chen (1-2 7.56 ERA). The Braves are big -182 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 10:35 AM PST from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.

At twenty-seven years old, Julio Teheran has become something of the elder statesmen for the Braves. On a team packed with twenty-somethings, Teheran is a guy that has a lot of MLB experience for his age, as he too came up very young. Teheran got off to a bit of a rocky start to the season in his first two outings, but since then he has been quite good. Teheran has won his last four decisions, and the Braves are 7-2 in his nine starts on the season.

In three of his last five starts, Teheran finished his day without allowing a run. Teheran must be licking his chops today for a home field matchup against a Miami Marlins team that is dead last in all of baseball in runs scored, slugging percentage, and home runs. They have managed to be twenty-ninth in batting average, so I guess some poor team is slightly worse than they are at hitting, but it wouldn’t at all be an overstatement to say this is the worst offensive team in the major leagues. Their offensive struggles help explain why at -89 runs, they have the worst run differential of any team, by a wide margin.

The Marlins will look to Wei-Yin Chen today. Chen is not enjoying a great start to his season. His ERA of 7.56 is amongst the highest of any starter in the National League, and he is not getting deep into games at all. Chen has pitched just sixteen and two-thirds of an inning in four starts and is averaging around just seventy pitches a game. Two starts ago against the Chicago Cubs? He got blasted for nine earned runs in only three innings of work.

This is a game that certainly seems like a mismatch to me. You have the Atlanta Braves that have the best record in the National League playing against the Marlins with the second-worst record, lagging behind only the Cincinnati Reds in the race to the bottom. You have the third best offense in the majors squaring off against the worst. And you have a starter that has been dominating over the course of his last several starts going against a guy that has worked at least five innings in only start this season.

The money line of -182 is much higher than I like to lay on a ball game. I generally won’t touch a game over about -150 on the money line, it is just too hard to show a long-term profit laying that much wood. But when you look at how poorly the Marlins are playing, and the fact that they are getting blown out routinely, you have to take a hard look at the run line.

Luckily for us, the run line in this one offers us a huge premium of eighty-two cents. We can take the Braves -1.5 runs and get them at even money. What a bargain! Remember when I mentioned the Marlins have the worst run differential in the majors? Well, the Braves have the highest run differential in the National League. Everything about this game screams blowout and I can confidently back the Braves at home and shouldn’t have to sweat that run line too hard today. Give me the hometown Atlanta Braves on the run line at even money today in game three!

The Bet: Atlanta Braves -1.5 runs at +100


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