The Atlanta Braves were down 1-0 entering the fifth inning last night. They went on to score six consecutive runs to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and earn a series win.
Now, the Pirates will turn to Mitch Keller to try and salvage a series finale win. The Braves will counter with rookie Kyle Wright.
Which team has the edge?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Wednesday’s matchup.
Atlanta Braves vs Pittsburgh Pirates Odds
The Braves open up at higher than -200 for the third straight game against the Pirates. When one of the more loaded rosters in baseball takes on a 47-75 ballclub, that’s what happens.
The total seems about right at 8.5, although I am already looking towards the over, especially with the wind blowing slightly out.
Let’s dive a little deeper to see where the best value is.
Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup
RF Ronald Acuna R
SS D. Swanson R
3B A. Riley R
1B M. Olson L
C T. d’Arnaud R
DH E. Rosario L
2B V. Grissom R
CF M. Harris L
LF R. Grossman S
Atlanta Braves vs Mitch Keller
Keller entered the season with a huge bump in velocity. His fastball was regularly hitting triple-digits, with it averaging around 99mph. He hasn’t been exactly there, but his velo is up almost two ticks year-over-year.
As a result, Keller has made huge strides. His ERA is down under 4.50 while his xERA is down below 4.40 – both were above 6.00 in 2021. His ground-ball rate is also up a full 10%, with him being one of the few pitchers to hit the 50% mark.
It’s questionable if Keller will ever reach his true potential. He was once one of baseball’s top prospects, and he has never been able to reach through. But this is a substantial improvement.
However, it’ll be tough to make any dent in this Atlanta lineup. Only the Yankees have produced more barrels than the Braves this season and only the Dodgers have higher Weighted Fastballs Created.
There’s a murderers row in the middle of the Braves lineup, headlined by Austin Riley’s breakout MVP campaign and Matt Olson’s 26 home runs. It’ll be tough to stop come October again.
Pittsburgh Pirates Starting Lineup
LF T. Marcano L
2B K. Newman R
CF B. Reynolds S
3B K. Hayes R
DH B. Gamel L
SS O. Cruz L
RF G. Allen S
1B B. Madris L
C T. Heineman S
Pittsburgh Pirates vs Kyle Wright
Alongside Spencer Strider, the Braves have developed two impressive rookie starting pitchers with nasty stuff.
But while Strider is a pure fastball pitcher, Wright creates magic with his secondary stuff. He’s produced a Whiff rate north of 30% on both his curveball and changeup this season, with his curveball spin ranking above the 80th percentile of pitchers.
Do you have time to talk about the filth factory known as Kyle Wright? pic.twitter.com/r8pQ18ANnT
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) April 16, 2022
In fact, Wright’s fastball is to his detriment. His fastball has accumulated a +12 Run Value, with opposing hitters slugging .558 off the pitch.
Luckily, the Pirates are the exact opposite of the Braves. They are third-to-last in Weighted Fastball Runs Created and don’t have a single hitter with an OPS+ above 100 save the young star, Bryan Reynolds.
It’d be a whole different story if superstar prospect O’Neil Cruz wasn’t slumping. He’s slugging over .400 but is batting below the Mendoza line with an OBP below .250. His batted ball statistics are still there (91mph avg. exit velocity, 44% hard-hit rate), so there is upside, but the plate discipline has to get better (38.3% strikeout rate).
Atlanta Braves vs Pittsburgh Pirates Pick & Prediction
My picks: Under 8.5 (-114 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
Re-examining this matchup, this number actually feels slightly high. DraftKings has already moved the line down to 8, and we can expect it to drop at other books as well.
I’m bullish on Keller’s abilities. All he needs to do is limit the damage allowed because Wright will roll over the Pirates lineup effortlessly. And in the bullpen, we have two elite closers in Pittsburgh’s David Bednar and Atlanta’s Kenley Jansen.
Three straight games between the Braves and Pirates have gone under, so I’ll bet it to happen one more time.