The Atlanta Braves are in the midst of a historic month. They’re 16-2 during June so far, including ripping off 14 in a row and posting a +63 run differential.
Sadly, Atlanta is still somehow 5.5 games back of the New York Mets for the NL East lead.
But the San Francisco Giants are in a similar boat. After winning the NL West wire-to-wire last season, the Giants find themselves in an unfamiliar position – third place.
So, both ballclubs could use a series win to get back in the hunt. Plus, it’s a prime matchup between two top-tier pitchers in Carlos Rodon and Charlie Morton.
Who has the edge?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Wednesday matchup.
San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves Odds
Charlie Morton has a 5.08 ERA. Carlos Rodon is among the top-five pitchers in fWAR this season.
Why are the Braves favored?
Atlanta is simply too hot right now. The betting markets have had to adjust to hold back bettors from flooding money in on Atlanta.
Does that mean we’re getting the Giants at a discount? While they’re only 6-9 as an underdog this season, it’s hard to avoid San Fran catching plus-money.
Let’s investigate further.
San Francisco Giants Starting Lineup
RF L. Gonzalez L
CF M. Yastrzemski L
3B E. Longoria R
LF J. Pederson L
1B B. Belt L
2B T. Estrada R
DH T. La Stella L
SS B. Crawford L
C C. Casali R
C A. Wynns R
San Francisco Giants vs Charlie Morton
Ground Chuck is no longer forcing ground balls. His 37.5% ground-ball rate this season would be the lowest of his career.
Morton is still striking out over 10 batters per nine, but his walks are up alongside his WHIP – the latter has jumped from 1.04 in 2021 to a whopping 1.37 so far this season. Put it all together, and you’re currently watching Morton having his worst season in over a decade.
Regression is coming, considering Morton pairs these poor numbers with a 4.44 xERA and a 4.02 xFIP. But none of his batted ball statistics give me much hope for a return to the renaissance days.
His curveball is as legit as ever, ranking in the 98th percentile in curve spin rate. But for some odd reason, it’s getting shelled to the tune of a .456 SLG and a +6 Run Value. That’s a far cry from how dominant it was last season.
The Giant lineup has been rather average. While five guys in the regular nine-man lineup have OPS+’s above 100, the Giants have posted just the 18th-best wRC+ over the past month. Their .270 BABIP during that time indicates some positive regression, but they’re also striking out at the third-highest rate during that time (24.6%).
As soon as I see Mike Yastrzemski finally turn it around, he goes off slumping again. Yaz is slashing .179/.286/.329 this month with 26 strikeouts in 70 ABs. After posting an OPS close to 1.000 for most of the season, I’d like to see the youngster get back on track.
Joc Pederson has been carrying the mantle for the Giants instead with his 148 OPS+.
Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup
RF R. Acuna R
RF R. Acuna R
SS D. Swanson R
3B A. Riley R
1B M. Olson L
DH M. Ozuna R
C W. Contreras R
LF A. Duvall R
2B O. Arcia R
CF M. Harris L
Atlanta Braves vs Carlos Rodon
I continue to be confused by this:
Image credit: FanGraphs
Rodon has cleaned it up slightly. He’s coming off back-to-back shutout performances with eight strikeouts in each. He pitched six-strong against the Dodgers in a win and then eight-strong against the Pirates in a win.
But something isn’t 100% with Rodon. His fastball hasn’t missed a beat in terms of velocity or spin rate, although he’s seen fewer swings and misses on average as the season has progressed.
Righty-heavy lineups that smash southpaws have shaken Rodon this season – the Cardinals are a good example. Well, against LHPs over the past month, the Braves have posted the third-highest wRC+ in baseball (161) and the second-highest OPS (.956).
Atlanta’s lineup consists of seven righties, including guys like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley – both of whom have a wRC+ north of 180 against southpaws.
It’s going to be a tough go for Rodon.
San Francisco Giants vs Atlanta Braves Pick & Prediction
My picks: Over 9 (-102 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
The Braves are rolling against southpaws while Rodon is looking a little shaky.
Meanwhile, Morton has looked downright pitiful against a Giants lineup that has raked for most of the year.
Plus, the wind is projected to blow straight out to the center field at almost 10mph during game time on Wednesday night.
All of this is setting up for an easy play on the over. The Atlanta bullpen has been rolling lately, and that scares me. But the Giants’ relievers have been below-average over the past month, and they rank among the bottom 10 teams in reliever xFIP on the season.
I will happily bet the over 9 in this spot, especially considering the juice is towards the under.