Atlanta Braves (76-68) vs. San Francisco Giants (95-52)
Division leaders continue their three-game series when the Atlanta Braves take on the San Francisco Giants. These teams play Friday evening, but this preview was written prior to the conclusion of that contest. Atlanta enters in a bit of a slump, losing three of their last four and they are just 6-7 in September. San Francisco saw their nine-game winning streak come to an end when they lost back-to-back games to San Diego on Wednesday and Thursday, but they still remain as one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Entering the series, these teams have played just three times this year, with Atlanta winning two of the three contests that were played in Georgia, August 27-29. In fact, prior to that three-game series, these teams have not faced one another since September 2019.
Atlanta Inching Closer to Division TitleDespite the recent slump, the Braves still hold a 3.0 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies for the top spot in the NL East. Atlanta has the opportunity to extend their lead with a four-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks following this set against San Francisco, and they return home to take on the Phillies and the Mets in three-game series to close out the season.
Atlanta is eighth in runs per game (4.86) and 12th in runs allowed per contest (4.19). The team is eighth in run differential as well at +0.67. The offense is solid with a .242 batting average, 11th overall, and they are third in home runs per game (1.49).
Right-hander Charlie Morton will get the start for Atlanta. Morton is 13-5 was a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts. He has been solid in his two September outings, allowing five total earned runs in 14.0 innings. This comes on the heels of an outstanding August that saw the right-hander post a 2.83 ERA in six starts.
Atlanta is led by 1B Freddie Freeman with 30 homers and 78 RBI. Austin Riley is having an MVP-type season, posting 29 homers with 89 runs driven in and Ozzie Albies is the team leader in RBI with 94 to go along with 28 homeruns. Atlanta has four players with at least 24 homeruns this year.
Giants Set Sites on Top RecordThe San Francisco Giants have clinched a playoff spot, but they have their sights set on baseball’s top record. Currently they hold a one-game lead over Los Angeles for the top spot in the NL West, and there is no doubt that the best record is going to come out of this division. The Giants have a good shot at getting that mark, as they have three with Colorado and three with Arizona coming up in the next two weeks.
San Francisco is sixth in runs per game (4.95) and third in runs allowed per contest (3.72). They are also third in run differential at +1.23. The Giants offense is outstanding, sixth in batting (.249) and second in home runs per game (1.52).
San Francisco has not named a starter for this contest. Alex Wood is listed as questionable for returning for Saturday’s game. Should he come off the disabled list and be cleared from Covid-19 protocols, he will get the start. Wood is 10-4 with a 4.08 ERA.
San Francisco is led by Brandon Belt with 25 homers and 52 runs driven in. Brandon Crawford leads the team with 80 RBI. The Giants are hitting .245 and averaging 5.13 runs per nine innings against right-handers.
- 15-5 in their last 20 games on the road.
San Francisco Giants:
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This should be an opportunity for Atlanta to grab a game in the series, and they will be in need of one. It is going to be Morton who is the difference, as the right-hander has looked exceptional over the last eight weeks. He has not faced the Giants the season, but his stuff has been outstanding of late, allowing one run in six innings to the Dodgers on August 31, then going to Colorado where he allowed just two runs in seven innings in Denver. Those are big-time performances.
Should Wood go, you have to expect a little rust. He has not appeared since an August 26 start against the Mets when he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings. Things were not going well for him in August with a 5.00 ERA in five starts, and Atlanta may have the opportunity to tee off on the left-hander.
Full-Game Total Pick
With no starter named for San Francisco, oddsmakers have not provided a total for this game. I go on the assumption that it will be Wood, so one should expect Atlanta to scratch out some runs. They will not be blasting home runs, however, as the left-hander has allowed just two over his last five starts. In fact, he has only given up two home runs or more in a contest in two of his 23 starts. Take away those two outings, and he has allowed just nine home runs in 21 outings. He keeps the ball in the park.
However, I do see the rest having an impact on this game. Atlanta has a formidable lineup, and that is not a group you want to be trying to establish a rhythm against after an extended period of time on the disabled list.
Take the Braves to win, 5-3.