MLB Odds: Rangers vs. Braves Series Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 6/17/2011
The Texas Rangers’ and Atlanta Braves’ play recently can probably best be summed up in one word: clinging.
The Rangers, the prohibitive favorites in the who-can-score-less American League West, are coming off a disappointing series in the Bronx where the Yankees bombed them. Texas has lost five straight, and since a big four-game sweep of the lifeless Indians the Rangers are just 2-8. Despite that slide the Rangers are clinging to a slim lead out West.
Atlanta, a team that most bobbleheads had pegged as the National League Wild Card favorites, have a lineup that I’m not certain could outscore their Gwinnett Triple-A affiliate. Injuries have sapped the Braves of what little offense they did have (they are No. 22 in the league in scoring) and they have managed to score more than four runs just two times in their last 11 games. Atlanta has lost (four straight) and just dumped a home series to their rivals, the Mets.
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At the start of play on Thursday the Braves had fallen five games behind surging Philadelphia in the N.L. West and they were tied with St. Louis for the Wild Card lead.
These two struggling teams will meet in Atlanta this weekend for a key interleague series. Both the Rangers and the Braves lost their initial interleague series of the year, to the Phillies and Angels, respectively, but one of them will come out of the weekend feeling a bit better about themselves.
Here is an in-depth look with odds and predictions for this weekend’s Texas Rangers versus Atlanta Braves interleague series:
Friday’s Pitching Matchup – Colby Lewis vs. Tommy Hanson
The bumbling Braves offense is exactly what Texas starter Lewis needs to see right now. Lewis has a 10.66 ERA over the course of his last three starts and is coming off back-to-back pathetic outings. He gave up six runs in just one-and-a-third innings in Minnesota on Saturday, and prior to that had given up nine runs and four homers in just over three innings back on June 6.
The Braves will counter with rock -solid Hanson. He has a scant 2.48 ERA on the season and just a 1.03 WHIP. And he’s been even better than that his last three times out, posting a 1.42 ERA and just a 0.89 WHIP in three consecutive winning decisions. Hanson hasn’t been going deep into games – he hasn’t gone more than seven innings in any start this year – and has been victimized by high pitch counts. However, he did strike out 14 batters in his last game.
Lewis will be throwing with an extra day of rest. (And he went just over an inning his last time out so it’s not as if arm fatigue is going to be an issue.) However, the Rangers are just 5-16 in his last 21 starts on five or more days’ rest. Texas is also just 4-13 when he faces a team above .500 and 1-9 the last 10 times he has started a series opener.
The Braves are 5-1 in Hanson’s last six starts overall and 5-2 when he faces an American League team.
Saturday’s Pitching Matchup – Matt Harrison vs. Derek Lowe
Lowe’s numbers aren’t jumping off the page this year – he is 3-5 with a 4.02 ERA – but he has been much more effective than the numbers suggest. Atlanta has won seven of his last nine starts, including three of his last four, and Lowe has been one of the few pitchers on the Braves staff to benefit from decent run production. The Braves are scoring nearly a full run higher in his starts than they are in the rest of their games.
Lowe is just 3-3 in his career against the Rangers, but he has a solid 2.92 ERA. Lowe is just 16-20 with a 4.25 ERA in his career in Interleague Play.
The Rangers will counter with southpaw Harrison. He has overcome a spotty start to the year to become one of the hottest pitchers on the roster over the course of the last month. Harrison has just a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts and just a 2.19 ERA in his last six starts. However, he has been the opposite of Lowe in that he hasn’t gotten any run support from the Texas lineup.
Harrison has received just 24 runs of support in his last nine starts. But 10 of those runs came in one game, meaning he has averaged just 1.75 runs of support in the other eight games. Needless to say, he is just 2-7 in his last nine outings.
Harrison has also been battling a kidney stone that has forced him into an early exit in each of his last two starts.
Sunday’s Pitching Matchup – Alexi Ogando vs. Jair Jurrjens
This should be the best matchup of the series as both Ogando and Jurrjens look to bounce back from losses earlier in the week.
Ogando was put through the ringer in New York, giving up six runs in less than two innings against the Yankees. Prior to that he had been among the Major League leaders in ERA and had won six straight decisions.
Ogando has given up two runs or less in 10 of his 13 starts this year. In the two previous games where he did give up more than two runs he bounced back to give up a combined two runs in 14 innings in wins over the Royals and Indians.
Jurrjens lacked control in his loss to the Mets this week. That was his second loss to New York in his last three outings. However, no other team has managed to score more than two runs against Jurrjens and he has been a complete stud this year. He has just a 2.13 ERA and a better than 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Recent Series
The last time these two teams met was back in Texas during the 2008 season. The Rangers took two of three in that series. However, the only starter currently on either roster that took place in that series is Atlanta’s Tim Hudson.
The teams also played in 2005, with Texas securing another 2-1 series win. But the last time they played in Atlanta was in 2003 and the Braves managed a sweep there. But guys like Greg Maddux and Ismael Valdez were prominently featured there, so that result doesn’t factor into this series as far as I am concerned.
In all, these two teams have played four series since 2002. The Braves are 8-4 overall and the home team is 7-2 in the nine meetings since 2003.
Rangers at Braves Odds and Trends
The Braves are slight -135 favorites to win the series on WagerWeb while the Rangers get an underdog price of +105.
Rangers are 9-3 in their last 12 interleague road games vs. a right-handed starter.
Rangers are 8-3 in their last 11 vs. National League East.
Rangers are 5-2 in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning record.
Rangers are 15-37 in their last 52 interleague road games vs. a team with a winning record.
Rangers are 1-4 in their last 5 interleague road games.
Braves are 7-1 in their last 8 interleague home games.
Braves are 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
Braves are 10-4 in their last 14 interleague games vs. a right-handed starter.
Braves are 45-20 in their last 65 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
MLB Picks: Rangers at Braves Series Predictions
I think that the Rangers hitting is going to win out in this series. I know that good pitching beats good hitting in most instances, but the Braves have absolutely nothing going on right now. I think that all three games are going to be very tight, low-scoring games. However, I just trust the Rangers lineup to scratch out some key hits more than I trust the Braves right now. Texas gets two of three and takes this series.
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports. He is considered one of the top MLB cappers in the country and has turned a profit in four of the last five years on the diamond with his baseball picks. He closed 2010 with $6,000 in earnings over the last four months and is looking forward to a great upcoming season against the MLB odds. Click here for more information on his MLB picks.
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