Atlanta Braves and Mike Foltynewicz are a LIVE DOG at Washington Today
by Kevin, Professional Baseball Handicapper, Predictem.com
At first glance, an average baseball bettor is likely to see the Nats as a -222 favorite over the visiting Braves and chalk up a victory for Strasburg and crew before the game even takes place. Not so fast mi amigos!
While Washington starter Stephen Strasburg is one of the better arms in the National League, he does have some chinks in his armor, and one of them is the Atlanta Braves.
Breaking Down the Nats Starter
Strasburg’s career numbers are solid with a 3.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a stingy .223 average against him. He’s even been slightly better at home with a 2.89/1.01/.221. These numbers tend to inflate when he pitches vs. the Braves. Last season (2017), he had a 5.16 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 22.2 innings. In 2016, a 4.22 and 1.22. In 2015 he shut them out in 11 innings. In 2014, he had a 5.40 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 28.1 innings. In summary, he’s been “less than himself” in 3 out of the last four years.
To further, bolster our take on the Braves having value today, Strasburg’s spring training numbers were “blah” as he had a 4.70 ERA in 15.1 innings where he allowed 17 hits and eight walks while fanning 19. Strasburg has proven that even while slumping (to his standards), he’s still going to miss bats.
Early on in the 2018 season, he hasn’t exactly been killing it in his first two appearances as he dropped his last game 2-8 vs. the Mets five days ago at home while allowing four runs over six innings. In his first game, he only allowed one earned run over 6.1 innings but it was to the lowly Reds and note that he allowed eight hits in that game. These aren’t earth-shattering numbers and are acceptable to most, but these aren’t “Strasburgesque” by any means, and they surely don’t warrant -222 favorite status.
What the Sharps are Betting
Vegas sharps also agree, as the game opened with the Nats as a -230 favorite and the game has been bet down to -222 despite only 39% of the general betting public backing the Atlanta Braves.
Reasons to Like the Braves
Atlanta has come out of the gate playing good baseball and are 2nd in MLB with 62 runs scored. In case your wondering, Washington has scored 47 runs. Both teams have played ten games.
Most are probably thinking “there’s no way I’m taking Foltynewicz over Strasburg!” I don’t blame you, especially if you’ve read my two earlier pieces where I was wrong both times! However, as you know, first round draft picks usually come around at some point in their career, and “Folty” appears to be doing just that. He’s looked good since the preseason where he only allowed 11 hits in 16 innings while allowing a meager .196 average and a 1.00 WHIP. His early regular season numbers have been strong as he’s fanned 15 in only ten innings with a 2.61 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and .237 batting average against.
Bats vs. Nats
Flipping back over to Strasburg, one of the big reasons he struggles with the Braves is the presence of Freddie Freeman. The big lefty has taken him yard 4 times while hitting .375, getting on base 43% of the time and slugging a robust .775. Freeman isn’t the only Brave to get to Strasburg either… Markakis .321, Suzuki .420 and Swanson .286 have hit him well.
If You removed the team names and pitcher’s names and looked at this content solely based on stats; the Braves should be the favorite. This constitutes value. Being objective here, between Strasburg being at home where he usually pitches well and the fact that the Braves got goose-egged yesterday. I’m more comfortable with a run line play here where we get +1.5 runs as Wash. may very well win the game, but I don’t think it’ll be by much if it does play out that way. Furthermore, 18% of all MLB games end with a one-run margin, so I’m happy to have the added insurance while getting almost even money. Most books have the Braves at +1.5 -110 or -115, however, you can bet it for cheaper at 5Dimes at only -110.
Kevin’s Braves/Nationals Pick: Atlanta Braves on the run line +1.5 -110. Good luck!