The underdogs could hold value in a battle of division leaders on Friday night when Randall Delgado and those Arizona Diamondbacks (42-36, 21-20 away) pay a visit to Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves (45-34, 25-11 home) in the first game of a weekend three-game series from Tuner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:30 ET.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Arizona as a nice road underdog for this contest at current odds of +143.
The Diamondbacks salvaged the final game of their three-game series vs. the Washington Nationals Thursday after dropping the first two games, maintaining their 3½-game lead in the National League West over the upstart San Diego Padres, who out of nowhere have gone from last place to second place in just a few weeks. Of course it helps that Arizona is the only team in the division that is currently over .500.
Still, that should not detract from the fact that the Diamondbacks have put together a nice deep and young pitching staff that has a cumulative 3.76 ERA, and that is even with one of the starters Arizona was counting on this season, Brandon McCarthy, on the Disabled List and his rotation spot initially being filled by an ineffective Tyler Skaggs.
The Diamondbacks quickly grew tired of that and called up Delgado from AAA on June 18th, and he has been a marked improvement in his two starts since while allowing a total of five earned runs and 15 baserunners in 12 innings (3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) with an exceptional ratio of 10 strikeouts against just one walk. The only reason Delgado is 0-1 and not possibly 2-0 is the Arizona offense scored a grand total of two runs in those two starts while he was in the game.
Also let us not forget that Delgado has an added advantage here in that he came up through the Atlanta organization and made 24 starts for the Braves the last two seasons, which were his first two years in the majors, so he should be very familiar with the Braves’ lineup. Pitchers usually have the advantage when they face a team for the first time, and that advantage multiplies if the pitcher previously played for the opponent, learning its batters’ weaknesses first hand.
The Braves are returning home from a nondescript 2-3 road trip which began by losing two out of three games to the Milwaukee Brewers before splitting two interleague games with the Royals in Kansas City. They still maintain their 5½-game lead in the National League East over the Washington Nationals, which is currently the biggest lead of any division leader in baseball.
That lack of offensive production could put added pressure on their rookie starter Teheran, and while the 22-year-old has pitched well while allowing three earned runs or less in 10 of his 11 starts, he has not been spectacular in his two starts vs. Arizona posting a 4.00 ERA and 1.50 WHIP with the Diamondbacks batting .317 off of him.
All of these things considered, Arizona looks to offer good long-term value at this price.
MLB Pick: Diamondbacks +143