Odds-Favored Atlanta & Santana to Keep Game Under 7 Runs

Matthew Jordan

Friday, July 18, 2014 1:39 PM GMT

The Phillies and Braves are two NL East clubs with vastly different goals entering the second half of the season: one with an eye toward the future and one looking at October. Atlanta opened as a -152 favorite on MLB odds for Friday's series opener.

Fire Sale Time
With Philadelphia last in the NL East, 10 games behind first-place Atlanta and Washington and the same amount out of a wild-card spot, the Phillies will be one of the few true sellers ahead of the trade deadline. This is one of the oldest teams in the majors and without a great farm system so GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has to get an infusion of young talent. It seems like the Phillies would prefer to hang on to pitcher Cole Hamels, but fellow lefty Cliff Lee is very available (Yankees?). It would be an upset if outfielder Marlon Byrd and closer Jonathan Papelbon aren't dealt, although Amaro is going to have to eat money on both. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley would have some value, especially Utley, but both have no-trade clauses. Rollins has indicated he might waive his to play for a contender.

 

Second-Half Momentum
The Braves (52-43) will be active buyers ahead of the deadline and they have won 16 of their past 24 games in looking to defend their National League East title. Washington is the -200 favorite at sportsbooks for the division with Atlanta at +150. The Braves are -120 on MLB odds to make the playoffs and the same price to miss out. The team still strikes out way too much. Atlanta is in position to break the franchise strikeout record for a fourth straight season. If the Braves have the lead in the top of the ninth inning of this game, forget about it. All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel is about unhittable. He has 29 saves with a WHIP of 0.88 and 62 strikeouts in 37.2 innings.

 

Probable Pitchers
Right-hander A.J. Burnett goes for the Phillies, and he's another guy who seems very likely to be moved, perhaps back to Pittsburgh. There's simply no point for Philadelphia to keep a 37-year-old who is on a one-year, $15 million deal. Burnett (6-8, 3.83) would make a fine addition to any contender. He has had seven straight quality starts, lowering his ERA from a season-high 4.41 to that 3.83 number. Alas the Phillies are 3-4 in those seven because they don't much score for him. Burnett pitched at home against Atlanta on April 17 and it was one of his best outings of the season: seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits. Several Braves have had good success of them in their career. Gerald Laird may get the call at catcher (Evan Gattis remains on the DL) as Laird is 5-for-10 with a homer and double off Burnett. Justin Upton is 3-for-8 with a home run. Chris Johnson and Jason Heyward are both 4-for-11 with a home run and two RBIs against him.

Free-agent pickup Ervin Santana (7-6, 4.01) starts for Atlanta. He started red hot, but has come a bit back to earth, to the dismay of those chasing him with their MLB picks. The Braves have lost seven of his past 10 starts, although some of them have been solid. Santana is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts against Philadelphia this year. He pitched two very strong games in Philly, with the Braves winning both, but lost the one in Atlanta on June 17, allowing four runs and eight eights over six innings. Ryan Howard hit a first-inning two-run bomb off him. Howard is a career .300 hitter off Santana with two home runs and four knocked in. Byrd can't hit the guy, going 6-for-34 with 11 strikeouts.

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Season Series
Take a step back from the details on this game before making your sports picks with these series stats. Atlanta leads 6-4 and the past two series have been road sweeps: the Phillies won all three June 16-18 at Turner Field and then the Braves swept four in Philadelphia from June 27-29 (one doubleheader in there). It was Atlanta's first four-game sweep in the City of Brotherly Love in 50 years. The Phillies will be thrilled that Gattis won't be available as he had four home runs and six RBIs in just five games against Philadelphia this season. Ryan Doumit also has fared well, going 5-for-12 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs scored in six games. Freddie Freeman is 12-for-40 with a homer, four RBIs and eight runs scored. For the Phillies, Byrd is hitting .342 with three dingers and nine RBIs against Braves pitching. Domonic Brown is at .313 with a home runs and four RBIs. Howard is hitting only .235 vs. Atlanta pitchers but with three long balls and eight RBIs. 

 

MLB Free Picks
Atlanta -152 on MLB odds with an 'under' of seven runs at -110. The Phillies are 2-8 in their past 10 against the NL East. Atlanta is 11-4 in its past 15 as a favorite. The Braves are 5-1 in their past six at home against teams with a losing record. For more stats impacting the betting odds, the 'under' is 4-1 in Santana's past five starts.