Last night was the second time this week where I badly wanted to be able to run line an underdog and wasn’t able to. The Atlanta Braves were somehow underdogs yesterday against the New York Mets, and in my pick yesterday I said I didn’t expect this game to be close. The Braves crushed them 11-0. Jason Vargas got rocked again, to the tune of six runs, all earned, on eleven hits and two walks. And Julio Teheran? Oh, he just carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up pitching seven shutout innings and gave up just two hits.
It was about as dominant as one game can be. These young kids in Atlanta sure are something special, and they are riding high right now as they have won seven out of their last games and just wrapped up a very successful road trip. For today’s pick, I stay right here with the Braves as they head home for a quick three-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants.
The San Francisco Giants are in Atlanta Friday for game one of a three-game weekend series with the Braves. The Giants are playing some good baseball right now and have won eight out of their last eleven games. The Braves are red-hot and after calling up a slew of young prospects in the last two weeks are cruising right now as they have taken control of the National League East Division, leading the second place New York Mets by a game and a half.
The Giants will start Chris Stratton (2-2 3.90 ERA), and the Braves will send Mike Foltynewicz (2-1 2.52 ERA) to the bump. The Braves are -150 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at nine runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:35 PM PST from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
I have been riding this Braves team a lot this year. Most people expected this team to be at least a year or two out from really competing, but here they are, dominating so far this season. The baby Braves as they have been called this year are leading the majors in batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, and are fourth in runs scored. Not to be outdone, the pitching staff is ranked top five in earned run average and batting average against. This team does a lot of things well on both sides of the ball, and with all this young talent they have, it is likely to only get better.
In my pick yesterday, I did a write up on prized prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. This is the youngest player in the big leagues, and he is swinging a heavy bat already in just a handful of games at the major league level. Well, yesterday was no different. Acuna hit a moon-shot bomb of a home run and ended the day with a total of three hits. He is now hitting .382 on the season. Now, I am not going to say that Acuna is going to hit at this clip all season long, but he feels like a guy that is going to be a difference maker in the middle of this Brave’s lineup for a long, long time.
Tonight’s starter for Atlanta is Mike Foltynewicz. I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but Foltynewicz is yet another young guy on this Braves roster. While this is his fifth year in the majors, he is still just twenty-six years old. In his first two seasons as a regular in the Brave’s rotation, Foltynewicz has had mixed results but has shown flashes of brilliance. So far this season, he has been fantastic.
Foltynewicz has made six starts on the season and has yet to give up more than two earned runs in any one start. The struggle for Foltynewicz has been his penchant for walking a lot of guys, he has fifteen walks in just thirty-two innings so far this season, and for seeing his pitch count swell early in games. He has been able to make up for his lack of command by punching out a lot of guys. In those thirty-two innings of work, he has thirty-nine strikeouts.
The San Francisco Giants brought in some big bats in the offseason. Namely Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. But unfortunately for them, neither of their big offseason acquisitions are hitting a lick right now. But to be fair to the new guys, none of the rest of the Giants are hitting either. This team is ranked twenty-fifth in the bigs in both on-base percentage and runs scored. When you look at how this team is performing as a whole, it is a bit surprising that they have managed to have a winning record.
Starting tonight for the Giants is Chris Stratton. Stratton has actually been pretty good this season. His ERA of nearly four runs might lead you to believe otherwise, but that was just one really bad start in his last game. Against the Dodgers, in his last start, Stratton got smashed for six runs in just an inning and a third against the very weak swinging Los Angeles Dodgers. It was due to happen though as he has been playing with fire all year long, allowing almost twice as many flyball outs as groundball outs. When you let them spray the ball all over the ballpark, sometimes they are going to fall into play.
I absolutely love what this Atlanta Braves team is doing this year. They are really, really young, but they are playing hard and have a ton of talent. When a good young team like this gets hot and starts playing well, they can be very hard to stop. We saw that last year with the Dodgers and the Astros. Both of those teams were chalked full of young talent, and they rode it all the way to the World Series. I am not ready to crown these guys quite yet, but I like them in this matchup tonight.
I feel that we are getting the best of the starting pitching matchup and we are certainly getting the better hitting lineup. We also get to back the home team, that is red-hot right now. I am not the only one that likes the Braves in this matchup as the money has come flooding in on Atlanta. This game opened at -130 last night and now sits at -150. If you like Atlanta, jump on it soon as it is likely to continue to move their direction.
Give me the Atlanta Braves -150 tonight at home!