Diamondbacks at Braves Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/28/2013
When the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Atlanta Braves for a three-game series starting Friday night at Turner Field, it's the final time the teams will see each other in the regular season. However, if the playoff field were finalized today, the Diamondbacks and Braves would face off in the National League Division Series.
The N.L. Central, which is bidding to become the first division ever to house the three teams with the best records in baseball at the end of the season, currently has the other three playoff teams. In the new wild-card format the team with best overall record faces the wild-card game winner regardless of whether that team is from the same division.
Of course the Snakes and Braves made one of the big trades this offseason, with Arizona sending outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves for a package built around infielder Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and prospects. That deal looked like larceny for Atlanta for the first month of the season as Upton hit 12 homers and knocked 19 while hitting .298 and became the NL MVP favorite. He has fallen off the end of the earth since, hitting around .210 with three homers, one in June.
I thought Atlanta might have the best offensive outfield in baseball with Upton, brother B.J., and Jason Heyward. B.J. Upton looks like a $75 million bust, batting .174 with eight homers and 17 RBI. I am starting to think that if the Tampa Bay Rays don't want a player then other teams shouldn't give them big contracts (i.e. Carl Crawford, etc.). Heyward missed a chunk of time after an appendectomy and is at just .217. I thought he'd have an MVP-caliber year. The Braves already have struck out 704 times this season, thanks to the two Uptons (170 between then) and Dan Uggla (99 Ks, .198 average). This is modern baseball: all or nothing.
The Braves have the largest division lead in baseball but haven't been playing that well, going 33-33 since a 12-1 start. They enter having lost six of nine, dropping series to lousy teams the Mets and Brewers and splitting with the Royals. Arizona closed out a three-game trip in Washington on Thursday afternoon and carried a three-game skid into that game.
Diamondbacks at Braves Betting Story Lines
Maybe seeing his former mates will get Justin Upton going. When the D-Backs hosted Atlanta from May 13-15 and Arizona won two of three. Upton, however, had five hits in 10 at-bats, including a homer, and four walks. B.J., looked like B.J. in that series, going 0-for-7 with two strikeouts.
Atlanta could be without outfielder Jordan Schafer for this game. He left Wednesday's game with an ankle injury and X-rays were negative. Schafer is having a great season, batting .309 with three homers and 14 RBI in a part-time role. Frankly, he should be starting with how bad the other three outfielders are hitting. With the Braves being able to use the DH in the Royals series, they were able to play all four. In the 19 starts he has made in the leadoff role, Schafer has hit .319 with a .424 on-base percentage. All other Braves in that spot are hitting.227 with a .272 on-base percentage.
The Braves will face Delgado in this one, and the vast majority of the Braves haven't seen him other than in batting practice or inter-squad games or the like. Delgado (0-1, 4.50) was called up from Triple-A in early June and has been solid in his past two starts, allowing five earned runs over 12 innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk. Both of those were at home. He had one road relief appearance and was knocked around a bit by St. Louis. Justin Upton is 0-for-2 with a strikeout against Delgado.
Arizona's lineup got a big boost Tuesday with the return of second baseman Aaron Hill after missing more than two months with a broken hand. He responded with two hits and two runs in his first game. The Snakes' offense is just so-so and really needs Hill. It could also use Prado to return to All-Star form. He's hitting.241 entering Thursday's game. Paul Goldschmidt and Gerardo Parra are carrying this lineup.
The Diamondbacks will be facing young righty Julio Teheran (5-4, 3.32). He has allowed more than three earned runs just once in his past 11 starts and is showing why the Braves think he's a future ace at age 22. Teheran has allowed two earned runs or less in three of four June starts. He pitched in Arizona on May 14 and allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings but took the loss in a 2-0 defeat. Parra is 2-for-5 off Teheran in his career and Didi Gregorius is 1-for-3 with two RBI. He's slumping a bit this month with a .240 average.
Diamondbacks at Braves Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, Atlanta opened at -160 and Arizona at +150 with a total of 8.5. All Diamondbacks trends entering Thursday: the Snakes are 33-42-2 over/under (21-19 on road) and 38-39 on the run line. The Braves are 39-37-3 O/U (16-18-2 at home) and 39-40 on the run line.
Arizona is 0-4 in its past four on the road against righty starters. It is 5-2 in its past seven Friday games. The Braves are 7-1 in their past eight home games against teams with a winning record. They are 0-4 in their past four Friday games. Atlanta is 6-1 in Teheran's past seven starts against teams with a winning record. The over is 8-1 in Arizona's past nine road games against right-handed starters. The under is 5-0 in Teheran's past five home starts and 7-1 in his past eight starts overall. Arizona is 1-6 in the past seven in Atlanta. The over is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings there.
Diamondbacks at Braves Betting Prediction
I would imagine the Braves hitters have a nice scouting report on Delgado from their pitching coach. Teheran, meanwhile, looks like the real deal and you can see why the Braves have turned down numerous trade offers involving him. (The Diamondbacks wanted him over Delgado). With Arizona also playing Thursday and having to travel, that tilts things even more in the Braves' favor. And at the end of the day I think that the big advantage that Atlanta has with its bullpen will come into play. Take them and the ‘under’.
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