Cast as the biggest underdog on MLB futures to win the World Series once the wild card games were done, the Atlanta Braves are a win away from the NLCS as they prepare to host the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 4 of their NLDS.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. Atlanta Braves
Tuesday, October 12, 2021 – 05:15 PM EDT at Truist Park
In an NLDS that is all about pitching and defense, Atlanta has been a notch above Milwaukee. The Braves and Brewers have combined to score three runs in each of the first three games, and Milwaukee has accounted for zero on the last two MLB scores. After splitting their six regular season matchups, Atlanta now owns a 2-1 lead in the first postseason series between the two franchises, and the last four matchups have been easy ‘under’ winners. In fact, their final regular season clash on August 1st was also a 3-run total (2-1 Milwaukee).
It all adds up to what should be an exciting Game 4. It would be even more exciting if we knew who was going to be pitching. Neither manager, Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, and Atlanta’s Brian Snitker had committed to a starting pitcher a mere twelve hours or so before game time, and that has top sportsbooks on hold as far as releasing their numbers.
Brew Crew 0-for-16 with Runners in Scoring Position
If not for one mighty swing in Game 1 by Rowdy Tellez, this series would already be history. Milwaukee has come up with a grand total of 16 hits in the three games, and four of those are off the bat belonging to Willy Adames. It’s not like we were expecting a lot of offense from a Brewers lineup that ranked sixth in the National League in scoring (4.56 rpg) during the regular season, but nobody was expecting them to be blanked in successive games either.
Counsell sort of put himself in the situation of not having a definite starting pitcher today by using Adrian Houser in relief twice during the first three games. Not only has that left Milwaukee thin in the rotation, but the move also hasn’t paid off with Houser serving up home runs to Joc Pederson in both of his appearances.
We do know that Counsell is not going to bring back Game 1 starter Corbin Burnes on short rest. Eric Lauer (7-5, 3.19) is a possibility for Milwaukee on Tuesday, and the lefthander would be pitching on plenty of rest having last been on the mound October 1st.
Lauer’s only experience against the Braves this season was rather ugly, a 3-inning relief outing in which he served up two homers and was charged with three runs. That contest was in mid-May, and the Brewers dropped a 6-3 decision as -140 chalk.
Will Morton Pitch on Short Rest?
Atlanta’s lineup hasn’t exactly been crushing the baseball either, though as a group the Braves are batting above the Mendoza line (just barely). Pederson has supplied most of the fireworks off the bench with three pinch hits, two of them homers including the 3-run blast that accounted for all of the scorings in Game 3.
Snitker hinted that he might bring Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.33) back on short rest for this Game 4 start. Morton went six innings in Game 1, making just the one mistake to Tellez, and the Braves fell 2-1 as +140 underdogs on the MLB betting odds. The outing was eerily similar to the 2-1 contest Morton and the Braves dropped to the Brewers on August 1st.
Two more mound options for Atlanta are AJ Minter (3-6, 3.78) and Huascar Ynoa (4-6, 4.05). Minter made 61 relief appearances for the Braves during the regular season and has just one career start which came in last year’s NLCS. Ynoa faced the Brewers in Milwaukee back in May and was knocked around for five runs and nine hits before exiting in the fifth inning.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature, and a Free Pick
The task of calling balls and strikes on Tuesday will fall to Tony Randazzo, a veteran of 21 major league seasons and working his 11th postseason series. Randazzo’s 25 plate assignments during the regular season resulted in a 15-9-1 O/U/P record, games with scoreboard targets of 8½ or lower running 8-4 O/U. The Chicago native’s last three times to have the dish in the playoffs all stayed ‘under’ the totals.
The forecast is for cloudy skies when this one gets underway around the cocktail hour, a humid 77° and hardly any breeze also in the mix. It’s awful tough to come up with a free MLB pick when neither side has named a pitcher, but it’s easy to imagine another ‘under’ winner given how impotent both offenses have been.
MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (-110)