MLB Picks: Phillies & Braves Sneak ‘Over’ The Total In Atlanta

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, May 12, 2016 3:22 PM GMT

This is a matchup of the two lowest scoring teams in baseball in the Phillies and Braves, but that is reflected by a deflated total that gives the ‘over’ MLB pick value Thursday.

There could be very sneaky ‘over’ value Thursday night in a matchup of two challenged offenses when Vincent Velasquez and the Philadelphia Phillies (19-15, 11-10 away) pay a visit to fellow young right-hander Aaron Bair and the Atlanta Braves (8-24, 2-16 home) in the final game of a three-game series from Turner Field in Atlanta, GA at 7:10 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Southeast.

The posted total at Heritage Sports is 7 for this contest with the current MLB odds on the ‘over’ set at +100.

 

Not Battle for Last Place as Expected
Most experts felt these two teams would be competing for the worst record in baseball before the year, and we shared that belief ourselves. But the Phillies have defied expectations by being four games over .500 so far at 19-15 even after the Braves evened up this series with a 5-1 win last night, leaving Philadelphia in third place in the National League East and only 2½ games behind the first place New York Mets!

Meanwhile the Braves have performed as expected notwithstanding the win on Wednesday, as Atlanta has been the worst MLB pick in the National League at a miserable 8-24. One small consolation is that at least the Braves no longer have the worst record in the majors, as that “honor” now belongs to the 8-25 Minnesota Twins of the American League after another loss last night. The difference though is that the Twins have much more upside going forward.

 

Velasquez a Bit Off Lately
Now, we totally get that these are the two lowest scoring teams in baseball, with the Braves dead last at 3.03 runs per game and the Phillies just ahead of them averaging 3.18 runs. But still, posted totals of 7 such as this one are usually reserved for great pitching matchups or at least matchups of two pitchers with proven track records, but that is lacking here for both starters and then both bullpens have been sub-par.

Velasquez certainly has a bright future and he was a key piece the Phillies acquired from the Houston Astros in exchange for Ken Giles. And he was sensational in his first two starts this year as he tossed 15 scoreless innings while allowing just six hits with an amazing 25 strikeouts vs. three walks! However the youngster, who does not qualify as a rookie after working 55.2 innings for Houston last year, has been ordinary over his last four starts.

During this span, Velasquez has allowed a total of 12 runs on 19 hits plus a disturbing eight walks in 22.1 innings with 19 strikeouts, and he allowed four earned runs in a game for the first time in a Philadelphia uniform last time out vs. the Marlins in Miami last Friday, allowing those four runs on seven hits plus one walk in six innings.

If the 23-year-old continues to regress a bit, the Philadelphia bullpen may not provide much relief. Yes, closer Jeanmar Gomez is having a great year leading the league with 12 saves vs. one blown while posting a 2.75 ERA, but the relievers leading up to him have struggled for the most part, resulting in the Philadelphia bullpen ranking 21st in the majors with a 4.17 bullpen ERA.

 

Poor Command Numbers for Blair
Now Blair is a highly touted prospect for Atlanta, and he does have a good 3.31 ERA through three Major League starts while allowing three runs or less in all three outings. The news is not all good though as it seems like Blair is still a bit raw while battling command issues with a distressing nine walks in 16.1 innings vs. just five strikeouts, and only once did he go six full innings.

Like many players in the Atlanta lineup, Blair may have been recalled rather prematurely to get some on-the-job training in what is basically a throwaway season for a Braves team in full-blown rebuilding mode as that approach may serve the franchise well in a few years. Something that may not serve the Braves well though is an expected early call to the bullpen tonight with Blair’s control issues again necessitating a relatively quick hook.

And as bad as the Atlanta bullpen has been this year, it had been downright dreadful at home posting a collective 5.68 ERA and 1.71 WHIP, which is a key reason why the Braves are an unheard of 2-16 here at Turner Field.

 

Bad Pitching Makes Braves ‘over’ Friendly
Finally, while the Braves are a poor offensive team this year, the ‘over’ has still gone 16-12-4, 57.1 percent in all of their games. That should give you an indication of just how bad the pitching has been with Atlanta ranking 24th in the Major Leagues in team ERA at 4.55 and 27th in bullpen ERA at 4.64.

Add this all up and this posted total does seem rather deflated, so go ‘over’ when -Philadelphia concludes its southern trek with the final game of the series in Atlanta on Thursday.

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MLB Pick: Over 7 (+100)
Best Line Offered: at YouWager
MLB Record: 18-20-1, +1.23