Philadelphia Phillies (Kyle Kendrick) vs. Atlanta Braves (Tommy Hanson) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

Philadelphia Phillies (8-4) Kyle Kendrick, at Atlanta Braves (7-5)
Tommy Hanson, Turner Field, Atlanta, Ga., 7:10 PM EST, Tuesday,
April 20th, 2010

by Badger of

Betting Line: Phillies +155/Braves -165
Total: 8.5

Two of Major League Baseballs exciting young arms kickoff the start
of the three-game series in Atlanta tonight when the Philadelphia Phillies hand the ball to right-hander Kyle Kendrick and he tries to
match Braves phenom Tommy Hanson.

The series will also determine the early lead in the National League
East standings as the Phillies are currently out in front by a half-
game over Florida, with the Braves lurking a game behind and in
position to make a move.

For the Phillies this series will be about trying to maintain their grip on the lead, especially since they come into Atlanta fresh off
of losing two of three to Florida at home to allow the Marlins to
creep closer to the top. Now they have to worry about stopping the
Braves from doing the same thing.

Meanwhile, the Braves are coming off a successful 5-4 West Coast road
trip that finished off with back-to-back series wins over the San
Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies. Now they hope to continue their
surge of good baseball by handing the ball to Hanson, whos been
pitching like the touted No. 1 ace many in the organization think
hes destined to become.

Oddsmakers agree with Braves management on Hanson, listing the righty
and the Braves as heavy -165 favorites on the moneyline against the
slugging lineup of the Phillies. That means the defending NL champion
Phillies and Kendrick are listed as attractive +155 underdogs at
offshore sportsbooks that offer a dimeline.

The over/under total opened at 8.5 and has held at almost every sportsbook on the Web with the lone exception of 5Dimes, which dropped the total to 7.5 but at astronomical -150 odds.

The hype surrounding Hanson seems to be well worth it because after
going 11-4 in 21 starts last year after being called-up midseason,
hes picked up right where he left off with two high-quality starts
in 2010 so far. He lost his season opener versus the Cubs but it
wasnt his fault (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, two solo HR), then rebounded very
nicely with a gem against the Padres on the past road trip (6 IP, 4
H, 1 R).

If there is a cause of concern for Hanson is the fact he has a .333
on-base percentage due to seven walks in his 11 innings, but his 1.32
WHIP is still solid and his strikeouts (14) and GB:FB ratio (0.6) are
why hes able to survive a little wildness at times.

Hanson did face the Phillies twice last year, both 4-2 losses in
duels with Cliff Lee and a rain-delayed game versus Pedro Martinez
where he threw only 2 innings before getting shutdown.

Unlike Hanson, Kendrick has struggled to meet the hype since his
breakthrough rookie season in 2007 (10-4, 3.87 ERA in 20 starts). His
two outings this season have been brutal (only 5.2 IP, 12 H, 12 R, 3
BB, 3 K), and even though hes slotted in the No. 3 role in the
rotation hes throwing more like a No. 5 in risk of being vanquished
to the bullpen if and when Joe Blanton gets back to health.

Hell also have to face the Phillies lineup that is top-10 in most
offensive categories including 2nd in MLB in OPS (.865) and 1st in
runs scored (6.5 per game). Those numbers have started to come back
down to earth though now that they are playing without catalyst Jimmy
, as they have lost three of the four games theyve played
since the shortstop was put on the DL.

Philly has played well at Turner Field the past few seasons, going
13-5 in the last 18 games in Atlanta including series wins the last
two times they visited. However, the Phillies are 0-5 in Kendricks
last five road starts, so it seems the betting trends world is about
to implode upon itself here.

The under was a better bet in Turner last year, going 5-3-1 in the nine games played between these two teams at Atlanta last season.

Badgers Pick: Im a big fan of Hanson and eating some chalk when hes pitching, but not against the Phillies and their stacked lineup
of left-handed bats. Even though the Philly offense is slumping right
now, I still cant lay -165 against them. But I dont trust Kendrick
either, so Im taking the over of 8.5 and hoping that the Braves can
get close to that number all by themselves. Take the over of 8.5.