After taking a look at Atlanta's starting rotation, we move on to the win total for the Braves which is listed at 66.5 wins (-115 MLB odds) and that appears to be a lot as the Braves are coming off of a 67 win season in 2015.
Let's take a look and see if the Braves will go north or south of the 66.5 win line with our MLB pick.
Finishing the Season Strong
This isn't a Braves team that made it easily to the 67 win mark last season. It's a bit deceiving as the Braves won their last 3 games of the season and were 6-4 in their last 10 games.
We have to remember that some of these games didn't matter to the opposition as they were either in the post-season or going home and the Braves fate was already sealed as they played a ton of young players.
To sum this up, don't just think that the Braves will eclipse the 66.5 win mark because they did so last season. This is a team with atrocious pitching and good pitching wins games in the MLB.
When you look at this pitching staff, Julio Teheran, who is a proven commodity, is the only reliable option where the starters are concerned and he's slated as the ace of the staff. While Teheran is a good pitcher, he's a number 2 to 3 pitcher at best.
The Braves either have unproven players such as Manny Banuelos (1-4 ,5.19 ERA), who was a disaster in his limited time on the Major League level or they'll be starting other team's discards such as Bud Norris from the Baltimore Orioles. Aside from letting the opposition hit nearly .300 off of him, Norris had a 3-11 record with a 6.72 ERA. I find it difficult to believe that Norris will suddenly turn it around even if he receives run support.
Except for Freeman, the Braves have virtually an average offense with no power. There are guys that can hit for average and get timely hits, but staying healthy will be a concern especially for A.J. Pierzinski, who will be 40 years old at the end of the season and Freeman himself, needs to be healthy for Atlanta to be respectable at all. Currently, Freeman is listed as “day-to-day” with a sore wrist, but that's not a major concern. It's his overall health for the entire season which is in question.
After having the best year of his career in 2013 at 23 HR, 109 RBI and a .319 BA, Freeman has been on the decline. Last season, he was down to a mere 416 at-bats with 18 HR and 66 RBI.
While the Braves can't have another season such as that, the one major asset to Freeman's game, aside from his glove, is his ability to draw a walk and have a high on-base average.
Freeman is good for a .380 to .400 OBP and any team will take that. If Freeman can play a full season, he's good for at least 20 home runs and 90-100 RBI's. He's also a very clutch hitter.. Look for Freddie Freeman to pick up the slack on a team with no power and lack of pure talent.
“I've Got the Power?”
Atlanta really has themselves in a pickle with such a lack of power. Take their starting outfield for instance, the combination of Matt Bourn, Nick Markakis, and Ender Inciarte combined for a total of 9 home runs last season! That's unthinkable and has to be last in the majors where starting outfielders are concerned. That's as pathetic as it gets and the only way that the Braves have a chance of picking up some wins is by playing “small-ball.”
Aside from Freddie Freeman, who is often injured and Julio Teheran pitching-wise, I see very little to look forward to where this team is concerned and they are a shoe-in to reach 100 losses. Take the UNDER 66.5 with a ton of confidence. This is a superb bet at -115 MLB odds at Bovada.