Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves Game 5 Predictions
Bullpen The SecondWe knew it was likely to be the case, and once again, Atlanta is relying on the bullpen to try to get them through a critical game. This time, the pressure is completely off the pen, as the Braves don’t really need this game to win the series with what they have coming up. If Atlanta does get beat in this game, the Braves will send Max Fried and Ian Anderson to the hill in Games 6 and 7, figuring they’re likely to get one out of those two. But with how well the bullpen has been pitching for Atlanta, Fried and Anderson might not even get their turn to take the hill. Over the final four innings of the first four games of the series, the Astros have a grand total of three runs. Atlanta pitching has completely done its job in this series, as the Astros have scored just 11 runs in the entire four games, but the Braves are at the point where they believe they’ve got the game locked up if they get to the sixth inning with the lead. Houston has to find a way to get the bats working early.
Laboring to the FinishFramber Valdez has really struggled over the past few weeks. He’s had a fine season, but in playoff-type games, unless the opponent has been Boston, he just hasn’t had it. The Athletics tagged him for four runs in his last start before the postseason, when Houston was trying to nail down the AL West, and the White Sox did the same thing in the ALDS. Against Atlanta, he was out of the game within three innings, giving up five runs on eight hits. Valdez did pull out one gem against the Red Sox at Fenway and has been genuinely outstanding away from Minute Maid Park in his past three starts on the road. But unless this is a weird situation in which he can no longer pitch at home but is just fine on the road, he’s not exactly inspiring confidence as to how this game is going to go.
Finish the JobYou’d think that a team coming back from down 3-1 would be more common when the trailing team gets Game 6 and Game 7 at home, but that’s not the case. More often, what happens is that the leading team slams the door in Game 5 and celebrates in their home park. Out of the six World Series comebacks from a 3-1 deficit, only two — the 1925 Pirates and the 1985 Royals — won the clinching game on their home turf. So the odds against Houston pulling this off are pretty long, especially with the pitching Atlanta has coming up. This isn’t 2016, where the Cubs trailed Cleveland 3-1, but everyone knew the Indians didn’t have a chance against Chicago’s pitching in Game 5 and Game 6 and the only suspense was who would win Game 7. Atlanta has the big edge in pitching after this game, and the Braves only bit of pressure is the sense that they don’t want to let the Astros get back to Houston and potentially get a boost from their crowd. Houston has to find a way to answer the bell and take advantage of facing a bullpen game. More Picks: Get Joe’s Sunday Jazz vs. Bucks Predictions
- The Astros are 6-2 in their past eight games after a loss.
- The Astros are 11-6 in their past 17 playoff games.
- The Braves are 7-0 in their past seven home playoff games.
- The Braves are 17-5 in their past 22 home games.
- The under is 4-0-1 in the Astros’ past five games overall.
- The under is 3-0-1 in the Astros’ past four games as a favorite.
- The under is 4-0-1 in the Braves’ past five games overall.
- The under is 7-0-2 in the Braves’ past nine interleague games.
- The Astros are 3-9 in the past 11 meetings in Atlanta.
- The under is 10-3-1 in the past 13 meetings.
Weather ReportThis will be the last baseball game of 2021 in which weather plays any role, and it shouldn’t have much impact at all. It will be 58 degrees and clear, with the wind blowing at six miles per hour to left center.
Dan’s PickCan the Braves pull this off again? With Valdez laboring down the stretch, I think they can get it done here. It’s hard to pick a bullpen game two nights in a row, but Atlanta’s parade of relievers has been that good this postseason. Give me the Braves to bring Atlanta its second World Series title on Halloween.
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