The Atlanta Braves will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opening contests of a three-game series on Friday. This is a rematch of last season's National League Championship, and both teams come into this series playing like contenders again. In April, the Dodgers took two out of three games from the Braves in Los Angeles.
*This preview was written before the conclusion of Thursday's games.
Freeman returns to AtlantaAfter Wednesday's action, the Dodgers were tied with the Padres for first place in the NL West. Los Angeles is first in MLB scoring 5.2 runs per game, and second with a 2.90 ERA as a team. They are 12th with 79 home runs. Mookie Betts who is currently on the 10-day injured list, leads the team with 17 home runs on the season to go along with 40 RBI. The Dodgers have plenty of healthy balance throughout the order with Trea Turner (.307 AVG, 9 HR, 50 RBI, 14 SB), Will Smith (9 HR, 32 RBI), and Freddie Freeman (.302 AVG, 7 HR, 42 RBI), all having productive seasons as well. This will likely be an emotional series for Freeman, who making this first return to Atlanta facing the franchise he broke into the big leagues with and played for from 2010-2011.
.@mookiebetts leads all NL votes and @treavturner leads at SS! The top two vote getters at each position (top six OF) will move on to Phase 2 when voting ends 6/30. The overall leading vote getter in each league in Phase 1 will automatically start.— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 21, 2022
🗳: https://t.co/BXKr9ILkke pic.twitter.com/NT7AGXqbWG
Julio Urias (4-6, 2.56 ERA) is expected to start on Friday. In seven road starts, Urias is 2-4 with a 2.50 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and two saves in four appearances in his career against Atlanta.
According to Caesar Sportsbook, the Dodgers are still favored to win the World Series at +420.
Braves tied for best record in JuneAt the end of May, the Braves were 23-27 and trailed the Mets by 10.5 games in the NL East. The Braves are off to a 17-3 in June and went into Thursday's game against the Giants now trailing the Mets by only 4.5 games.
Atlanta is seventh in MLB with 333 runs scored and second with 106 home runs. They have five players who have reached 10 home runs already, led by Austin Riley with 18 home runs and 41 RBI. Ronald Acuna is also catching up quicking after missing 29 games this season with seven home runs, 18 RBI, and a team-best 12 stolen bases.
No. 7 for No. 7. pic.twitter.com/upgngZ5ghT— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) June 23, 2022
Projected to start for the Braves on Friday is Ian Anderson (6-2, 4.35 ERA) who has 59 strikeouts against 32 walks with 70 1/3 innings. In five home starts Anderson is 1-1 with 5.84 ERA. Anderson had a terrific postseason in 2021, when he went 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts. In one regular-season start against the Dodgers last season, Anderson allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Braves bullpen is fifth with a 3.06 ERA.
The Braves are tied for fifth with +1,200 odds to win the World Series according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
There's a lot to like on both sides, but someone has to win. With both teams having elite lineups and bullpens, I have to give the edge to the Dodgers due to the starting pitching and defensive edge. Julio Urias has a 2.10 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in his last six starts, much more consistent than Ian Anderson who has a 4.98 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in his last six starts. Defensively, the Dodgers rank eighth and have saved +20 more runs than the Braves who are ranked 16th in the field. Take the Dodgers and Freddie Freeman to pick up an emotional win on Friday.
Full-Game Total Pick
Although the pitching on both sides is solid, it's hard to keep either of these offenses down for nine innings. Los Angeles is averaging 5.1 runs per game on the road this season, and the Braves are averaging five runs per game at home. Both clubs enter this series hot at the plate, as Atlanta has scored at least five runs in eight of their last 12 ballgames, and the Dodgers have scored at least seven runs in four of their last five. I like the over.