By: Willie Bee
It's all square in Atlanta after the Braves victory in Game 4 of their series with the New York Mets on Wednesday. The clubs will settle this set in one of three all-southpaw matchups on Thursday's MLB betting card as Jon Niese takes his turn for New York and Atlanta counters with Mike Minor.
The Braves are big favorites for the finale, drawing roughly a -195 price on the morning moneyline. Bettors are also faced with a 7.5 run total that is juiced heavily to the low side according to SBR's live MLB odds.
New York has won just two of Niese's last 10 starts, and one of the eight defeats was a pounding administered by the Braves on this diamond in early May. The lanky southpaw issued six free passes in his four-plus innings of work that afternoon, along with three extra-base knocks among the seven hits he allowed.
That effort was out of character for Niese vs. Atlanta; he is 6-4 lifetime in these matchups with a respectable 3.64 ERA though several Braves hitters have done well against Niese, including Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward who have each taken him deep twice.
Minor is coming off a rough outing last Saturday vs. the Giants, but the end result was Atlanta winning its eighth consecutive start by the Vanderbilt product. That string of victories could be nine if not for the bullpen blowing a lead against the Mets in Atlanta on May 3, New York ultimately winning the game in extra frames.
He rebounded with one of his best efforts of the season the next time he faced the Mets in Queens, tossing scoreless baseball into the eighth inning while striking out a season-high 10 on May 25.
Paul Schrieber reappeared to work the third-base bag in Game 4, but it is crew chief Jeff Kellogg who is expected to be back behind the dish for Thursday's series finale. Kellogg also had the plate in the series opener that stayed UNDER the total, bringing Kellogg's season record to 7-8 O/U.
A slight chance of thunderstorms remains in the Atlanta area, but it's likely to be just another humid evening in Dogwood City. Look for temps in the upper-70s at first pitch with an east wind in the 8-12 mph range (in from right).
The OVER treated me well in Game 4, and I'm going to come right back with another play on the high side of the total tonight. Be sure to return this weekend for previews and free picks for all three games at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and Astros.My pick: Mets-Braves Over 7.5 (+110) at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Ah, June Teenth in the South, a forgotten holiday by many but one that will be celebrated fervently in Atlanta where the Braves and New York Mets continue their set with the fourth of five games at Turner Field.
I will also be celebrating with cold beers and good tunes at Gruene Hall on Wednesday when the Mets send Shaun Marcum to the mound against Kris Medlen. The Braves are pronounced favorites in the -190 area, and MLB odds on Wednesday morning are offering options for bettors with 7 and 7.5 run totals at various outlets.
New York swept Tuesday's doubleheader behind a couple of talented young right arms. The Mets tried to blow Matt Harvey's no-hit bid in the matinee, but New York manager Terry Collins wouldn't quite give the game away in the end. Zack Wheeler then worked six scoreless frames in the nightcap, striking out seven against five walks, to help the Mets to a 6-1 triumph.
Mets starters have done a fantastic job keeping Atlanta off the pay station so far in this series, and that's something that Marcum has not been able to do with consistency in his injury-marred 2013 campaign. His best effort of the campaign came a little more than a week ago when he worked eight innings of relief in the marathon at Miami, and he still suffered the loss.
Marcum has faced the Braves twice this season, and New York won both contests, though he was cuffed for three runs without making it through the fifth in the assignment at Atlanta on May 3.
Medlen's 3.09 ERA has not translated into as many wins as you'd think with the Braves 6-8 in his starts. He didn't figure into the decision of Atlanta's 7-5 win over the Mets in New York a few weeks ago, and the Braves are 3-4 in his seven tries at Turner Field.
Weather isn't supposed to be an issue tonight, though there is a 20% shot at a passing shower. Paul Schrieber was supposed to work the nightcap Tuesday, but disappeared from the crew after working the first-base bag Monday evening. He has been replaced on Jeff Kellogg's crew by rover David Rackley who has worked four games south of the dish this year, two of them staying UNDER the total and two pushing the number.
Marcum would seem a likely candidate to help the Braves even up the series on Wednesday, but I'm going to play both offenses to do the job and push Game 4 past the total.
My pick: Mets-Braves Over 7.5 (+105)
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
You can't really blame New York Mets manager Terry Collins for leaving Dillon Gee on the mound to suffer the loss against the Atlanta Braves in Monday's series opener. However, I do have a problem with how Collins is lining up his two young pitchers for Tuesday's doubleheader.
Freddie Freeman's 2-run blast in the bottom of the ninth off Gee allowed the Braves to walk off with a 2-1 win in Game 1, and pushed Atlanta to a 7.5 game bulge at the top of the NL East race in the process. Weather permitting, the Braves and Mets hope to play two games today, the twinbill a product of a rainout last month.
The matinee contest is most at risk with a 90% chance of thunderstorms this afternoon in Hotlanta. Matt Harvey is scheduled to start that tilt for the Mets while Alex Wood gets his first MLB start for the Braves. Despite Harvey's fine season to date, Wood and the Braves are very slight chalk with a 7 run total favoring the UNDER.
Rain chances taper off a bit during the afternoon, but there's still a 60% shot of precipitation for the scheduled 7 PM (ET) start that finds Zack Wheeler making his MLB debut for New York opposite Atlanta's Paul Maholm. MLB odds have the Braves going off around -170 on the moneyline with a 7.5 run total that once again leans to the low side.
It's difficult enough for a kid to come up from the minors and finally make his major league debut, but Collins seems to be adding to the normal anxiousness by making Wheeler sit through a game this afternoon before he finally climbs the mound for the very first time. A top pick by the Giants in 2010 before coming to the Mets in the Carlos Beltran deal in July 2011, Wheeler also has the added pressure of making his debut with a lot of family and friends on hand having grown up just outsideAtlanta, and on a very sloppy field if the weatherman is right.
He is also facing a pitcher in Maholm who has beaten the Mets each of his last three starts against them, and has a string of 22.1 scoreless innings in those outings.
Both umpires today have strong UNDER trends on the season. Eric Cooper (4-9 O/U) is in line to work the afternoon contest followed by Paul Schrieber (3-8-3 O/U/P). Crew chief Jeff Kellogg, who called the plate Monday, could also factor into the outcomes since he will have the final say on any decisions with the weather.
I do like Harvey as the underdog in the opener, but really can't pull the trigger on the Mets in either game. Instead, I'll follow the recent series trend (as well as the umpires) with plays on the UNDER in each contest. The Nationals and Phillies will also play Tuesday night in Philadelphia, and SBR has analysis and a free MLB pick for that game.
My pick: Game 1 - Under 7 (-115); Game 2 - Under 7.5 (-115)
Monday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Optimists and pessimists both agree that rainouts suck, but the former finds a silver lining in those clouds knowing it means there will be some bonus baseball later on the schedule.
That is certainly the case the next four days in Atlanta where the Braves and New York Mets tangle for five games. What was a regularly-scheduled 4-game set gets a bonus contest thanks to a May 4 postponement, and with at least a 30% shot at t-storms through Thursday, we just could see weather factor into the battle between NL East rivals once again.
Monday's series opener will be played mostly under the lights with a mound duel between Dillon Gee and Tim Hudson. Atlanta is close to a $2.00 favorite on the morning MLB odds board, and every outlet is in agreement with a 7.5 run total priced to the UNDER.
It is the third series confrontation of '13 between the squads, and second in the ATL. The Braves opened their current homestand by taking two of three from the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, stopping a 4-game slide and opening a 6.5 game lead in the NL East.
New York sits a distant 13.5 games back in the race after finding the sledding tough recently with 10 defeats in the last 13 games. Included in that stretch are five losses in as many games to the lowly Miami Marlins, and narrowly avoiding being swept at home by the Chicago Cubs this past weekend. Monday's tilt begins an 11-game road trip that will find the Mets heading to Philadelphia, Chicago's South Side and Denver before returning to Citi Field.
Gee Out For Revenge & 4th-Straight Win
The last time Gee faced the Braves, he appeared to be in trouble of losing his spot in New York's rotation, and possibly even losing his spot on the big league roster. Atlanta pasted a 5-run fifth on the righthander en route to a 6-zip road victory, leaving Gee with a 2-6 record and 6.34 ERA through his first 10 assignments.
He has since reeled off three consecutive victories while chopping a run-&-a-half off his ERA. Gee beat some pretty good lineups in that stretch, limiting the Yankees, Nationals and Cardinals to three runs over a combined 21 innings.
Hudson almost has a full year of experience vs. the Mets over his career, working nearly 180 innings against the squad from Queens and posting a 16-10 record along with a 3.61 ERA in 28 starts (all with Atlanta). He worked into the eighth giving up three runs when he saw the Mets on May 5, a 2-run jack by David Wright his only real mistake.
Braves Own Series At Turner Field
Atlanta is 90-46 at Turner Field vs. the Mets, winning eight of the last 10. The clubs split the rain-shortened 2-game set here in early May, the first meeting between the two this season, and the Braves took two of three at Citi Field in a follow-up series about three weeks ago.
Seven of the last 10 clashes in Atlanta jumped the scoreboard hurdle, including both contests earlier this year.
Rain is in Monday's forecast for Dogwood City, with the weatherman listing a 60% chance this evening. That always leaves open the likelihood of knocking starters out of action earlier than expected, and with a doubleheader tomorrow, it could spell trouble for the entire series. The Braves definitely have the better bullpen and I'm going to take a shot on a run line play.
Make sure to return tomorrow for more coverage of this series, including free picks for both games in the day-night doubleheader.My pick: Braves -1.5 (+110) at Bet365