Atlanta Braves @ Washington Nationals (7:05 ET)
Favorite: Braves -220
Pitchers: Kyle Wright (2.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) vs. Anibal Sanchez**
38-year-old Anibal Sanchez makes his season debut after nearly 2 years out of the Majors. In the spring he signed a minor league deal with the Nationals and worked his way into the rotation only to be injured and setback until mid-July. The veteran has only really had one great season in the big leagues, and his full season in 2020 he had a 6.62 ERA. I’m not certain what his stuff is going to look like but even at his best it wasn’t very good. Facing an Atlanta offense who has been struggling, scoring no more than 4 runs in each of their last 5 games, he’s comes up against the Braves at the right time.
Kyle Wright has finally put it all together in his fifth year in Atlanta. Truly entrenched into the starting rotation, he’s excelled all year. Wright is a fastball and curveball dominant pitcher with a wrinkle of a change-up to catch batters off-pace. He’s been brilliant recently, allowing only 4 runs in his last 18 innings (2.00 ERA) and is facing a Nationals team he just performed well against. The nationals offense is basically Juan Soto and nothing else. The All-Star is batting .458 in July and just about everyone else hovers around the Mendoza line. Expect Wright to have another brilliant outing.
The difference in this game will be made in the bullpen. Since June, Atlanta ranks 2nd in the league in xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching, basically a more accurate ERA), while Washington ranks 28th. Given that we don’t know how good or how long Sanchez will go for the Nationals, they might have to lean on a pourous bullpen which is no recipe for success. Expect a bounce-back from the Braves who will look to end the first half of the season strong.
Pick: Braves -1.5 -135 (1u)
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Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Angels (8:07 ET)
Favorite: Astros -155
Pitchers: Framber Valdez (2.64 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) vs. Reid Detmers (4.22 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
Writing this at 10:46 ET It looks like the Angels will take the 2nd game of this series behind Shohei on both the mound and at the plate. We turn the page from the 100+ throwing Ohtani to Reid Detmers’ true 4-pitch usage. Detmers’ last outing was nothing short of brilliant against a hot Orioles team throwing 6 innings and allowing only 2 hits and no runs. The issue is the prior 2 games he allowed in 9 runs. He’s inconsistent and has the tendency to lose the strikezone a bit leading to walks and then home-runs when he forces it back. He’s in the bottom half of all pitchers by every metric and facing a great offensive team in Houston doesn’t help that. In his first game this year he faced the Astros and allowed 2 home runs and 2 walks over 4 innings.
Framber Valdez is every manager‘s dream. He’s a walking quality start having gone 6+ innings allowing 3 or less runs in 14 consecutive starts. He tends to go deeper than 6 as well and is better when he’s away from Minute Maid Park, posting just a 1.76 ERA. We all know how bad the Angels offense is (bottom 3 of all offensive metrics since beginning of June) and without Mike Trout I doubt they get more than 2 or 3 on the Astros. It’s a bit juiced, but I’ll take Valdez to lead the Astros back in resounding fashion.
Pick: Astros ML -155 (1u)
Elsa - Getty Images
Milwaukee Brewers @ San Francisco Giants (9:45 ET)
Favorite: Brewers -115
Pitchers: Corbin Burnes (2.20 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) vs. Carlos Rodon (2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
The reigning NL Cy Young winner is reminding people why he’s one of, if not, the best in the game. He’s only 27 and seems to only improve with each start. He’s throws primarily a cutter (56%) but mixes in 4 other pitches to round out his arsenal. He’s been phenomenal lately, allowing only 19 hits over his last 37 innings. Carlos Rodon gets it done a little differently but he’s damn near just as effective. He uses a pure 2-pitch arsenal with 62% coming from his 4-seam fastball and 35% in his slider (he’ll once or twice a game mix in a curve). Rodon has allowed 1 or less runs in 5 of his 6 and 5 or less hits in the same amount. He’s better at home and is facing the Brewers at the right time as they could possibly be without Christian Yelich.
While these pitchers are both studs and almost a wash, the offenses and bullpens tell a different story, and that’s where the Brewers will win this game. It’s no secret that the Giants have regressed this year in both faces, laying in the bottom third in OPS and Relief Pitcher xFIP since the beginning of June. In that same time span the Brewers are 9th in both categories. Expect the depth of the Brewers lineup and phenomenal relievers led by Josh Hader to see this game out.
Pick: Brewers ML -115 (1u)