The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies will play the first of 19 games against each other Monday, as the two teams will likely be battling the Washington Nationals for the NL East division title.
A new year
Philadelphia finished last year with an even 81-81 record, which resulted in a third place finish within the National League East division—17 games back of the Washington Nationals. The result snapped a string of five straight division titles and nine consecutive winning seasons.
The Philadelphia Phillies are 29-20 in the month of April the last two seasons, with the OVER going 25-23-1 in that situation.
Atlanta won 94 games during the 2012 MLB campaign, but suffered a disappointing loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in a one-game Wild Card playoff that ended former third baseman Chipper Jones’ career abruptly.
The Braves will be one of the more exciting clubs in baseball, especially with the additions of brothers B.J. and Justin Upton, while they demonstrated the ability to hit the ball out of the park in leading all NL teams with 49 home runs during Spring Training.
Hamels gets the nod
Cole Hamels is set to make his first-ever Opening Day start for the Phillies, as he earned the distinction after Roy Halladay looked anything but dominant during the spring.
Hamels is 12-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 28 career appearances (27 starts) versus the Braves, including a 5-4 mark and 4.18 ERA in 15 appearances (14 starts) at this particular ballpark.
MLB handicappers will find that Philadelphia has dropped his last five starts against Atlanta when facing Tim Hudson, but the club is 5-1 in his last six trips to the mound on the road.
Hudson will be making his third Opening Day start for the Braves, but the first two were on the road, which is important to consider when looking over the MLB betting odds page. The right-hander is 27-16 with a 3.52 ERA in 61 career starts in April.
In five starts versus the Phillies during the 2012 campaign, he compiled a 3-1 record and 3.99 ERA, while allowing four home runs in 29.1 combined innings. Hudson will need to be careful pitching to first baseman Ryan Howard, who is 22 for 65 (.338) with seven home runs in his career against him.
I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their MLB picks Monday, as the OVER is 6-2 in Hamels’ last eight starts as a road underdog of +110 to +150, while the Braves have gone above the number in five of their last six games with Hudson listed as a home favorite of -110 to -150.
MLB Pick: Over 7 (+105) at BookmakerFor more free plays, check out our MLB Picks of the Day.