Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Picks
Philadelphia Phillies (38-30) at Atlanta Braves (40-29)
When: 7 p.m., Friday, June 14, 2019
Where: SunTrust Park, Atlanta
Line: PHI +120/ATL -130 (MyBookie)
Runline: Phillies +1.5/Braves -1.5
Starting Pitchers: Nick Pivetta (4-1, 4.93 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) vs. Max Fried (7-3, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Two weeks ago, Max Fried on the mound in Atlanta was as much of a sure thing as an order of southern fried chicken. But Fried lost his last start at SunTrust Park to Washington and gave up nine hits in the process, and he hasn’t pitched well in either of his past two starts against Pittsburgh or Miami. While the Braves won both of those starts and they were both on the road, the fact remains that Fried has given up 24 hits in his past 15.2 innings of work, and of those three opponents, only the Pirates rank among the top seven hitting clubs in the National League.
Put simply, Fried isn’t pitching particularly well at the moment, and it’s unclear if he’ll be back on form when he returns to the mound in Atlanta. There’s a chance that he’s just not a great road pitcher and he’ll be back to the form he previously showed against the Phillies, but with three straight sub-par performances, it’s tough to risk it.
Nick and No Sticks
When Nick Pivetta is on, he’s going to miss bats. In his past three outings, he’s been on from the word go, as he’s whiffed 21 hitters in his past 20 innings of work. In that stretch, he’s beaten both St. Louis and Cincinnati, going the distance against the Reds and allowing just one run. While his third performance in that string was an 8-0 loss to the Dodgers, he certainly wasn’t to blame, as he fanned nine and held Los Angeles to three hits and no runs in six innings. Unfortunately for Pivetta, the Phillies’ bullpen then imploded and gave up seven runs in the eighth inning, turning what had been a pitchers’ duel into an L.A. rout.
That blemish is the only mark against him since returning from a confidence-building stint at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and it wasn’t even a negative, as he did his job. Pivetta has simply been a different pitcher since returning to Philadelphia, and everything in his recent performances suggests that he’s put the past behind him. He seems to be pitching with confidence, and he’ll need it against a tough Braves lineup.
To say these teams got the week off to a good start in the home run category is a massive understatement. Earlier this week, the Phillies hit five home runs and managed to lose to the Diamondbacks (who hit eight in the same game), while the Braves blasted five of their own in a win over the Pirates. That’s a sign of just how insane the home runs have been this season, as neither team is all that adept at blasting the ball. The Braves rank 10th in baseball with 100 dingers, while the Phillies sit 21st with 82.
This is the teams’ first meeting in Atlanta this season, and the Phils will be hoping that this series looks a lot like the Braves’ trip to Citizens Bank Park in the opening series of the season. In that series, the Braves never threatened and the Phillies blasted them by a combined score of 25-11 in a three-game sweep. However, like most teams, Philadelphia is a much better club in its own park than it is on the road, as the Phillies are just 15-16 outside of the City of Brotherly Love. Atlanta, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care where it plays: the Braves are 20-15 in Atlanta and 20-14 on the road.
- The Phillies are 5-1 in their past six games against the NL East.
- The Phillies have lost Pivetta’s past five road starts.
- The Braves have won their past seven games.
- The Braves are 5-1 in Fried’s past six starts.
- The under is 5-0 in the Phillies’ past five games following an off day.
- The over is 5-0 in the Braves’ past five games following a win.
For Atlanta, this is a relatively mild temperature for game time in June, as the mercury will be at 80 degrees at first pitch.
On the surface, it seems silly to go against the Braves here. After all, they’ve won seven in a row, they’re at home and Philadelphia isn’t a great team on the road. But a look into the Braves’ victories tells a different story. Yes, Atlanta hasn’t lost in a week, but the Braves beat the fading Pirates and the pathetic Marlins in those seven games. Before that, Atlanta dropped two of three in Pittsburgh, and the only .500 team it’s faced in the past 3.5 weeks is St. Louis, which sits right at .500.
Conversely, the Phillies haven’t had as many wins, but they’ve been playing better competition. Losing two of three to a hot Diamondbacks team isn’t anything to be ashamed of, and that’s the only series the Phils have lost in the last month other than a three-game sweep at Los Angeles, where the league-leading Dodgers are practically unbeatable.
Plus, while the Braves were beating up on the likes of Pittsburgh, Miami, Detroit and San Francisco, seven of the Phillies’ past eight opponents were .500 or better when Philadelphia faced them. Philadelphia has faced tougher competition, Pivetta is pitching with confidence and the Phils have already proven they can beat Atlanta this year.
Personally, I’d rather have the team that’s tested itself against good competition and held its own than the one that’s faced inferior foes. The fact that Fried’s pitched poorly three outings in a row only strengthens those feelings. Give me the Phillies here.
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