Braves vs. Marlins Odds
|Time||Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet|
The National League East has been the worst division in baseball this season. It is the only one with just one team above .500 and the first-place Mets have the worst record of any division leader.
The Braves are coming off back-to-back walk off losses at the hands of the Phillies and sit in third at 29-31 with a -1 run differential on the season.
Miami sits behind the Braves in fourth place in the division at 27-35. However, with a +5 run differential, which is the second-best in the division, the Marlins should have an expected record of 32-30.
Miami enters this game 3-1 against the Braves this season. Let’s see whether it’s good value to get another win as an underdog.
Charlie Morton continues year-after-year to be the most impressively unimpressive pitcher.
Morton is always good, but never great. This season, he has a 5-2 record with a 4.21 ERA and 3.65 xFIP. Those are in line with his career numbers, which are a 4.09 ERA and 3.78 xFIP.
The game plan for “Ground Chuck” has always been to generate ground balls and soft contact. He has a 33.9% HardHit% this season and his 49.1% ground-ball rate ranks 13th in the league. Morton’s velocity is actually up a bit this season, even at age 37. His fastball is averaging 95.3 mph, up from 93.4 in 2020.
In his start against Miami earlier this year, Morton allowed five runs on seven hits over six innings, including a three-run home run by Jazz Chisholm Jr. back on April 14.
After a bit of a slow start, the Braves’ offense has been great as expected. They rank top 10 in the league in runs per game, OPS, slugging, wOBA, wRC+ and walk rate. The Braves rank first in the league with over 1.5 home runs per game.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is tied for the league lead with 18 home runs and ranks fourth in wOBA and wRC+ this season. Atlanta has also gotten great seasons so far from Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley.
Sandy Alcantara is very adamant that he wants to pitch all nine innings when he starts. Well, he has come close recently, tossing eight innings in two of his last three starts. His most recent outing was his best of the season, allowing no earned runs in eight innings against the Pirates. Alcantara is averaging over six innings per start this season.
Through 13 starts, Alcantara has a 3.30 ERA but his 2.93 xERA indicates he could be even better. Like Morton, Alcantara pitches to contact, producing a 53.7% ground-ball rate, the third best in the league. Ground Sandy just doesn’t sound as good as Ground Chuck.
The 6-foot-5 Miami right hander throws his fastball 98 mph that he combines with a fantastic changeup, which opponents are batting just .146 with a 22.1 HardHit% against. Teams have just a 3.7 Barrel% against Alcantara this year, which ranks in the top 10% of the league.
Luckily for the Marlins, their pitching staff has been terrific, because the offense has struggled. They rank 14th in batting average, 24th in OPS and 22nd in wRC+ this season. However, over the last two weeks Miami ranks eighth in batting average and 12th in OPS and they have been even better over the last week.
The difference? The return of Starling Marte.
After missing 35 games with a fractured rib, Marte returned on May 28 and is batting .419 with a 1.244 OPS and three home runs in his 12 games since returning.
This is one of those games you have to decide whether you go with the better pitching or the hitting. Miami has the advantage on the mound to start the game and out of the bullpen, while Atlanta has the advantage with the better offense.
I am going to go with the pitching. Alcantara pitches with the same game plan as Morton, he just does it better. His changeup has been terrific all season and most of the Braves top bats are much better against lefties than they are against right handers.
The current Braves lineup is batting just .194 with a .285 wOBA against Alcantara in his career with Acuña, Freeman and Albies a combined 8-for-42 (.190) with seven strikeouts against him.
Even though Miami has struggled at times at the plate, Marte’s return totally changes this offense. He has gotten a hit in 10 of his 12 games since returning from injury and is a scorching 12-for-20 (.600) in his last five games.
The Marlins’ roster has a combined .326 batting average and .390 wOBA against Morton and had success against him earlier this season. Their top guys in Marte, Chisholm and Jesús Aguilar are all hitting the ball really well right now and I like the Miami offense to give Alcantara enough run support to outpitch Morton.
Pick: Marlins +114 (bet down to +105)