June 21st Results: 0-3
All-Time Results: 39-44-1, -2.62 Units
Atlanta Braves -158 vs. Philadelphia Phillies – 1 Unit
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies Under 10.5 – 1 Unit
Rubber match between two teams zooming in opposite directions. The Braves have won 21 of their last 30 games, and have now joined the Dodgers, Twins, Astros and Yankees as the only teams with a 90+% chance to make the playoffs according to FanGraphs. World Series future odds also reflect that they are in the top tier of the sport along with those other teams mentioned. The Braves have rocketed from 20/1 to win the 2019 World Series on June 15th, all the way down to 10/1 today.
Conversely, the Phillies had hovered around even money to make the playoffs since the beginning of the season, until dropping off this past month. On June 1st, Philly had a 52.6% chance of the playoffs according to FanGraphs. Since then their chances has been more than halved (24.6%), thanks to an 8-16 month.
Atlanta sends to the mound 21-year old phenom Mike Soroka, who has the second best ERA in the MLB for pitchers who have pitched more than 80 innings. Soroka does not only overpower batters, but also keeps them off balance with great precision and movement. I look for him to catch this Phillies offense a little too eager, who will get out ahead of his change-up and unique sinker.
For their part, Philadelphia sends to the mound lefty Zach Eflin, who is having by far his best year to date. Despite his 7-7 record, Eflin has been a revelation for otherwise struggling Phillies pitching staff. His 3.34 ERA is the best on the team and a full run lower than his previous best. He also has protected the suspect Philadelphia bullpen by already throwing for 2 complete games so far this season. I like for him to embrace this match-up and rise to the occasion, lasting long into the game and helping keep the total under.
Outside of their high-octane offense, a large part of Atlanta’s success has been due to their resurgent bullpen. Atlanta’s relievers have quietly crept into the top 3 of in the MLB in terms of Bullpen ERA, despite not having a dominant closer to lean on like they once had in Craig Kimbrel.
Usually, I wonder about the motivation of a hot team facing a team more desperate to break out of a slump. However, considering the game will decide the series between these two teams, as well as the pomp and circumstance of playing ball on Independence Day, I like for the Braves to keep focused and keep rolling in a tight and well played game.
San Diego Padres @ Los Angeles Dodgers Over 8 – 1 Unit
Two pitchers here: two entirely different reasons for skepticism.
By far the lesser concern is Hyun Jin Ryu. Ryu still looks like the Cy Young favorite despite giving up 7 earned in Colorado last week. It was the first time he had given up more than two earned runs all season, and the first time he had given up 4+ since 2017.
Before his last start, Ryu had only given up 5 earned runs since May 1st. The air of invincibility – both for himself and his opponent – may be shaken. Ryu has not lasted long into the season the past couple years, and is unaccustomed to this sustained workload. With the All-Star break right around the corner, I expect him to regress slightly from his stellar form.
Conversely, the Padres trout out Dinelson Lamet for the first time since his April 2018 Tommy John surgery. Men’s Journal came out with a list of the “Top Tommy John Surgery Comebacks” recently. The list includes 8 Starting Pitchers that had the surgery this century. Here is how they performed in their first game back:
May 2001, John Smoltz 3 IP, 5 ER
July 2008, Chris Carpentor 4 IP 1 ER
September 2009, Tim Hudson 5.1 IP 2 ER
August 2010, Jordan Zimmerman 4 IP, 5 ER
April 2011, Adam Wainwright 5.2 IP 3 ER
September 2011, Stephen Strasburg: 5 IP, 0 ER
April 2015, Matt Harvey 6 IP, 0 ER
July 2015, Jose Fernandez 6 IP, 3 ER
Combined these eight pitchers had a 4.16 ERA in their first start back, with an average start lasting between 4.2 and 5 innings. Of course this definitely not a representative a list, and closer to a depiction of the best case scenario.
Unlike these All Stars, Lamet looked like a worse than average pitcher during his brief time in the MLB in 2017 before his injury. More reasonable comparisons would be to players like Michael Pineda (4 IP 0 ER) or Jimmy Nelson, (3 IP 4 ER) neither of whom lasted long in their first start back following their Tommy John.
We can safely assume Lamet will not last long in this game, leading the Padres to lean on their 24th ranked bullpen. The Giants of all team stretched these relievers scoring 30 runs over their 3 game sweep.
The Over is 4-1 in San Diego’s last 5 games.
6-2 the last 8 times the Padres played in Dodger stadium.
7-2-1 in the last 10 games in between these two teams.
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