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July 24th 2014 - Posted at 3:00 PM ET

Take Atlanta Braves (-126) on the Money Line against Miami Marlins risking 2%
(Harang and Alvarez must start)

The Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves conclude their 4-game series at Tuner Field tonight. Even though it may not be obvious to everyone, this is an extremely important game for the Braves! The Braves are currently in a tight battle with the Washington Nationals for the top spot in the NL East and with Washington having the night off; this is an ideal opportunity for Atlanta to gain a bit of ground. There is also the fact that these two teams are divisional rivals and the Marlins have an improbable 2-1 lead in the series. We expect the Braves to come out motivated and even up the series tonight.

Atlanta will be facing off against the Marlins #1 pitcher this season in Henderson Alvarez. Since Jose Fernandez went down with a season ending injury, Alvarez has stepped up and has pitched admirably for the most part. But while Alvarez has been dominant at home this season, it's been a different story on the road when out of his comfort zone. He is just 2-3 on the highway with an average ERA of 3.81 this season. In his last road start, against the inconsistent Mets offense, he gave up 6 earned runs on 8 hits in just 5 innings of work! It's also worth mentioning that in his very last start, he was hit by a groundball off the shin and taken out in the 2nd inning! He appears ready to go tonight but there could still be lingering effects not only due to soreness and the knock he took but also due to the short length of time he had on the mound in the previous game. Alvarez has also struggled against Atlanta in his career. He has a 0-2 record with a 6.67 ERA in 5 starts against the Braves! 

The Marlins have certain deficiencies as a group. They are a team that is 6 games below .500 but are making strides in comparison to last year. This is a young team however and their inexperience has often shown. Much like their pitcher, they are a different team at home than on the road. While it is natural to have some variance in how teams perform at home versus on the road, the Miami stats are much more drastic! On the season, they are 19-29 on the road and their offensive production is 0.5 runs less than at Marlins park. 

Turner Field has always been one of the toughest places to play for opposing teams and the Braves own a proud 133-82 record over the last 3 seasons to display for it! Their offense has been somewhat of a concern this season but it's worth noting that they have scored 5 or more runs in 6 of their last eight games, which includes 12 runs just in this series alone. As a team, they have won 14 of their last 16 games when scoring more than 3 runs. Justin Upton comes into this game having hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games and Jason Heyward has 6 hits in this series. 

The Braves bullpen has also been excellent at home this season. They have a respectable combined 2.64 ERA and the best closer in the Majors in our opinion in Craig Kimbrell! When it gets into the latter innings, they have shown their ability to maintain a lead and against an inconsistent Marlins offense, they should get the job done. The opening odds were much higher for this matchup but have reduced to this level. Atlanta is now worth a wager at this cheap price and Freddie Freeman who finally broke out of his slump with a homer last night should play a part in it.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • The Braves are 17-3 (85%) in save situations at home!
  • The Miami Marlins are 32-44 against right-handed starters this season!
  • The Marlins' bullpen has an ERA of 4 on the road this season!
  • Miami is just 8-15 in their last 23 visits to Turner Field.

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