Angels Try to Continue Upwards Ascent
Los Angeles rewarded those using them for MLB picks with a 5-1 homestand and they continue this Eastern road swing in the south. Manager Mike Scioscia is generally satisfied where his team is positioned in the standings and is convinced with Josh Hamilton back on the lineup card, the Angels can return to scoring 5.0 runs a game. (Currently 4.6)
The Halos show a modest profit of one unit, mostly because of their offense and relatively solid starting pitching. They are 15-11 in contests decided by four or more runs, with sluggers like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout being difference-makers. Of course the Angels centerfielder has more well-rounded skills, but Scioscia has squad in which any player he plugs in has some pop in the bat and they can explode on teams.
While it is terrific the heavy-money players are contributing more than a year ago, what has made this a better club is the depth, being able to call on a Collin Cowgill, C.J. Cron, Kole Calhoun or Grant Green and get results.
If the offense generates a few more chances and the bullpen solidifies, the team from Anaheim will beat the betting odds with even greater regularity.
What to Make of the Braves
Atlanta’s starting pitching continues to be among the best in The Majors, ranked third in ERA and in the Top 8 in WHIP and OBP. And its offense has improved, raising their runs scored from 3.2 at the start of the month to 3.6, yet in June they are 5-6, -2.4 units against the MLB odds.
Where we start to see cracks is in the starting pitching, with stop gap measures Ervin Santana and Aaron Harang beginning to retreat towards career norms after hot starts. Granted, any team’s pitching staff can have bad time in Colorado and the Braves staff was tagged for 29 runs in their four-game series, just keep it in context since the Rockies were without Nolan Arenado and Carlos Gonzalez.
The offense though improved, is still too dependent on Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman and needs more from Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson and to a lesser degree Evan Gattis.
When you break down all of Atlanta’s numbers to this juncture of the season, this is just an ordinary team, looking more like a .500 club than a playoff contender at this time.
Pitching Matchup for Saturday
Among the reasons why Los Angeles is in contention in the AL West is pitcher Garrett Richards, who has a 6-2 record and his team has won nine of his 13 starts. His ERA of 3.09 ranks in the Top 10 in the American League and he’s really been tough on the road with 2.08 ERA, with a moving mid-90’s fastball and late-breaking slider.
Gavin Floyd would also be in the Top 10 in ERA in the National League if he had enough starts this season. Coming off of elbow surgery, Floyd has made seven starts and his 2.57 ERA has been exceptional, allowing two or fewer runs in five of his outings. It is easy to tell when the right-hander has his best stuff, when he averages a punch-out per inning.
The normal perception is Atlanta would have the superior bullpen in this battle and their ERA is significantly lower (3.50 vs. 4.15) even accounting for the league differential of 0.32, largely because of the DH.
However, upon closer examination, the two team’s pens are closer than one might expect, except for one very key category.
The clubs are side by side in on-base percentage allowed, with the Braves slightly lower at .322. Atlanta also has a higher save percentage at 74 percent compared to 67 percent for Los Angeles.
However, those generating sports picks, looking deeper into the numbers find the Angels strikeout more batters and allow fewer hits per innings pitched.
So where is the disconnect in the ERA, the long ball. Atlanta is tied for the fewest home runs surrendered at 10, while the Halos have been tagged for 22.
Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
These teams have seldom met and last night was Atlanta’s first interleague victory in seven tries this season.
Sportsbooks sent this game out as a Pick and baseball bettors prefer the visitor, making the Angeles a -120 choice with a total of Ov7.
The Winner Is….
While I believe Los Angeles is the overall better team, the Braves are 76-40 playing at home since last season and 21-6 at Turner Field having lost three of their last four and generate enough offense to win.
MLB Free Picks – Atlanta wins