This Saturday, the (77-43) Houston Astros and the (73-47) Atlanta Braves will play game two of this three-game series. The first pitch will be thrown out at 7:15 PM EST inside Truist Park. This is also the first time that these two teams have matched up this season.
The Houston Astros are coming into this one after a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox. The Astros ended up splitting this series, as they won the final two games. They also exploded at the plate on Thursday, as they scored 25 runs in the final game of their series.
The Atlanta Braves are entering this one after a tough series with the New York Mets. They won three of four games and looked great on the mound. They held the Mets' to three combined runs in their three wins, as they did a great job of keeping New York off the scoreboard.
This game was written/published before last night's results.
Can the Astros Keep it Up?The Houston Astros are currently the number one seed in the AL Playoff race, as they have won seven of their last 10 games. They are extremely tough to beat right now, as they are getting the job done on the mound and at the plate. They also have an 11.5-game lead over the Mariners in the AL West. At the plate, the Astros are scoring 4.69 runs per game and they are hitting .246 as a team. This is the eighth most runs scored per game and the 13th highest overall team batting average. They have been reaching base safely and they have also been driving in men when they are in scoring position. They also scored 25 runs against the White Sox in the final game of their series, as the Astros were feeling it at the plate. Houston can also score multiple different ways, as they are averaging 1.39 home runs per game. This is the third highest average in the league, as it isn't easy to keep up with the Astros on the scoreboard. I also expect them to stay conservative once they have reached base safely, as they don't need to risk losing their base runners with the way they are making contact with the ball.
According to MLB.com, the Astros will start Cristian Javier on the mound. He has been solid this season, as he is (7-8) with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. Reaching base has been difficult for his opponents and it's also very tough to string together multiple hits against him. The right-hander has had some issues on the road this season, though. In his opponent's ballparks, he is (2-4) with a 3.80 ERA. He did bounce back in his last start, as he completely shut down the Athletics for 6.0 innings. He only allowed one hit and zero earned runs, as the A's couldn't do anything against him at the dish. I also have a ton of faith in the Astros bullpen, as they are allowing the least amount of runs per game with 2.91. They have been one of the best bullpens in the MLB this season, as they have continued to shut down batting lineups late in these games.
Can the Braves Keep Winning?Slowing down the Braves is not an easy task right now, as Atlanta has now won eight of their last 10 games. They are also holding the top NL Wild Card Spot, as they are still 3.5 games behind the Mets for first place in the NL East. They will need to string together some more wins if they want to avoid being a Wild Card team this season. At the plate, the Braves are scoring 4.90 runs per game and they are hitting .252 as a team. This is the third most runs scored per game and the ninth highest overall team batting average. They are getting the job done at the plate, as they can string together multiple base hits to create a big inning or they can also show off their power. They are hitting 1.55 home runs per game, which is the second most in the MLB, as not many teams can hit with the Braves. They can score multiple different ways, as they have one of the deepest batting lineups in the league. I also expect the Braves to stay aggressive once they have reached base safely. They have a ton of speed inside their lineup and they aren't afraid to push their runners into scoring position. They have already stolen 68 bases this season, which is the 12th most in the league. They will do whatever it takes to push their base runners closer to home plate.
According to MLB.com, Atlanta will start Spencer Strider on the mound in this one. He is currently (7-4) with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. Reaching base against him has been a real struggle for his opponents, as he has been dialed in this season. He has also been a beast at home, as he is (4-1) with a 2.66 ERA inside Truist Park. He looked dominant in his last start, as well. He pitched for 5.0 innings, but only gave up three hits and one earned run against the Mets. He completely shut them down and gave his team a great chance of winning. The Braves also have a great bullpen, as they will be ready to enter the game whenever Strider needs to exit. They are allowing 3.23 runs per game, which is the fifth least amount of runs allowed this season. They are also shutting down their opponents late in these games, as the Braves have multiple guys that they could put into the game to keep their opponents off the base paths.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Astros got the job done against the White Sox in their last series, but it wasn't as easy as it looked. I also don't see them scoring 25 runs again. I will be riding with the Braves money line in this one, as they have the advantage on the mound and they are hitting the ball great inside their ballpark. Atlanta is currently scoring the third most runs per game and they are hitting the second most home runs per game. They will be able to keep up with the Astros on the scoreboard and I also have a ton of faith in their starting pitcher, Spencer Strider. He has been on fire at home this season, as he is (4-1) with a 2.66 ERA. He also looked great in his last start, as he completely shut down the Oakland Athletics. Now, I don't see Cristian Javier having as much success. He has struggled on the road this season, as he is (2-4) with a 3.80 ERA. The Braves are going to hit him early and often and start this game quicker than the Astros. I also like the Braves bullpen better in this game, as the Houston bullpen struggled against the White Sox in their last series. The Braves will keep the Astros off the scoreboard for the majority of this game, as they will slowly pull away.
Pick the Atlanta Braves ML and trust Strider on the mound!
Full-Game Total Pick
This pick feels bold, but I like it. We have two great starting pitchers on the mound, but I see the Braves exploding at the plate against Cristian Javier. He has had struggles on the road this season, as he is ERA jumps from 2.96 to 3.80. He hasn't looked great inside of his opponent's ballparks, as he continues to give up too much contact on the road. The Braves are also scoring the third most runs per game and they are hitting the second most home runs. They will jump out to a hot start and do their part in pushing this total over (7). Now, I also see the Astros scoring a few runs in this one. They are scoring the eighth most runs per game and they are hitting the third most home runs. Both of these teams can score multiple different ways, as the opposing pitcher won't be able to completely keep them off the scoreboard. I also liked the way the Braves hit against the Mets in their last series. Both teams have been consistently reaching base safely and I see that trend continuing in this one.
Take the over (7) runs and expect both teams to have success at the plate. They are two of the best hitting teams in the MLB.