Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros Pick & Analysis for Game 2
Atlanta Braves (96-76) vs. Houston Astros (102-71)
When: 8:10 p.m., Wednesday, October 27
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Moneyline: ATL -105/HOU -115
Runline: Braves +1.5/Astros -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Max Fried (15-8, 3.11 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs. Jose Urquidy (8-4, 3.98 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)
On the Fly Adjustment
This wasn’t the way that it was supposed to go for Atlanta. The Braves were supposed to come out of Game 1 in control of the series and ready to dictate pitching matchups if they won Game 1, as they could have had Charlie Morton ready to go in Game 5 had everything gone according to plan.
Instead, a broken leg means that Morton will miss the rest of the postseason, and Atlanta’s now going to have to count on two bullpen games in this series instead of one. And that also means that Atlanta’s going to have to move Fried into position as the Game 2 starter, as opposed to giving him extra time to recover from a poor showing in Game 5 of the NLCS. With two bullpen games being known quantities now for the Braves, Atlanta has to ensure that it has the option to pitch Fried and Ian Anderson in Game 6 and Game 7, should those games become necessary.
Because of that, even though Atlanta leads the series by a game and Houston will have to win in Georgia to stay alive, it really doesn’t feel like the Astros are the ones in a hole here. Instead, Atlanta now has to get three out of four wins off its two remaining aces, which is no easy task.
Running Out of Gas?
On the other side of the coin, Jose Urquidy might be running into the wall that comes at the end of the season, as his performance against Boston was nothing short of disastrous. The Astro hurler lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits and watching Boston score a 12-3 win. That was nine days ago, and that’s the only start Urquidy has made in the past three weeks.
That poor showing could be a sign that he’s out of rhythm and might perform better pitching on his normal schedule, but he’s given up at least three runs in three of his past four outings, which suggests that this is likely a result of him just being overwhelmed by pitching too many innings this year. Last year, he only threw 29 innings in the 60-game sprint, and this season, he’s already at 107, more innings than he’d thrown in his entire career to this point.
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Old school baseball fans 1, next-gen statisticians 0, as the Braves sent a pair of blasts off of Framber Valdez and chased him in the third inning, tossing aside the fact that Valdez had the lowest launch angle of anyone in the majors in 2021. Beyond the home runs, the Braves just hit well, as every member of the Atlanta starting nine had at least one hit in Game 1. That’s not quite as impressive as if it had happened in Georgia, where the pitcher has to bat, but it’s still an accomplishment to get 12 hits and have nine different players come through at least once. This might be the first time every member of a team has a batting average of at least .200 at any point in a playoff series.
Conversely, the Astros’ lineup didn’t get the job done. Michael Brantley, Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel were productive at the plate, but the rest of the Houston nine combined for one hit for the entire game. When you’ve got a lineup with holes, it’s relatively easy for a pitcher to find the soft spot in the lineup and refuse to give your best hitters anything they can drive. Houston was the best offense in baseball all year, and the Astros have to get the job done moving forward.
· The Braves are 8-2 in their past 10 playoff games.
· The Braves are 14-5 in their past 19 games after a win.
· The Astros are 7-2 in their past nine games as a favorite.
· The Astros are 6-2 in their past eight home playoff games.
· The over is 3-0-2 in the Braves’ past five against the AL West.
· The over is 4-1-1 in the Braves’ past six playoff games as an underdog.
· The over is 8-1-1 in the Astros’ past 10 playoff games.
· The over is 4-1-1 in the Astros’ past six playoff games as a favorite.
· The Astros are 5-1 in the past six meetings.
· The under is 7-4 in the past 11 matchups.
During the World Series, the roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park.
Dan‘s Prediction to Win
If you had told me Charlie Morton wasn’t going to last past the third inning of Game 1, I’d have bet heavily on the Astros. But the unheralded Atlanta bullpen got the job done when it mattered most, and I’m not sure Houston feels all that confident hitting against the Braves’ relievers right now. Plus, the Braves got into the Astros’ bullpen as well, and Houston’s pen had to work pretty hard against Boston in the ALCS and probably won’t hold up through the whole series.
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