June 1, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
There are two picks tonight.
#1: Take Atlanta Braves (-109) on the Money Line against Arizona Diamondbacks risking 3%.
(Wood and Bradley must start for wager to have action)
This is a matchup where we believe the Braves should have a significant advantage. It will be a quick turnaround for their opponents were involved in a knock down drag out battle last night with the Milwaukee Brewers. It was an emotional rollercoaster for Arizona as the jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the 4th inning although their lead would be short lived. Arizona gave up 5 unanswered runs to see Milwaukee take the lead in the 6th. It had to be a deflating blow to this team to see them give up the lead, but Mark Trumbo managed to answer the call with a solo shot in the 8th to tie the game. From that point on this matchup turned into a tactical chess match, with each manager readily changing pitchers and making calculated decisions as to which pitches to throw and who to allow on base. This game went into the 17th innings and you could tell that both teams were fighting for that victory. When a baseball game goes that long, it seems like almost a waste to put so much time and effort into a victory only to come up short. That's exactly what Arizona did. In the 17th inning Martin Maldonado hit a solo shot into the stands giving the Brewers the victory!
That had to take a toll on the Diamondbacks, not only mentally, but physically as well. They blew through pretty much every player that they possibly could yesterday in hopes for that victory. They had 17 different hitters at the plate and completely blew through their bullpen, using 7 different pitchers. They put it all on the line in that game and ultimately came up short. Dejected and deflated, they had to alter their travel plans and fly back to Arizona later than previously scheduled in what is a very quick turnaround!
Atlanta on the other hand has the momentum of a strong 9th inning coming into this contest. The Giants who had started Madison Bumgarner took a 5-3 lead going into the final inning but the Braves surprised them by scoring 4 runs to 7-5! This is a squad that loves to swing for the long ball. They have numerous players on this roster who are capable to hitting the ball out of the park which pts quite a bit of pressure on young Diamondback's pitcher, Archie Bradley. The 22 year has struggled in his rookie campaign this season and currently has a 5.28 ERA. Bradley was roughed up in his last outing against the Cardinals giving up 5 hits and 6 runs while lasting just 3.2 innings. Arizona will need a quality start out of Bradley tonight to give some much needed rest to their bullpen. If Bradley gets roughed up early, it could be tough for the Diamondbacks to recover in this one.
The Braves come into this series having won their last two games against the defending champion San Francisco Giants. That has to be a confident boosting way to end the series and the Braves should come into this series with their spirits high, completely opposite of Arizona. Those two victories got the Braves back to a .500 record as they now sit 25-25 on the season. Tonight they will send Alex Wood to the mound who’s been very impressive in his recent outings and now sits with a 3.50 ERA to open the year. Wood was effective in his last start as he went 7 innings against the Dodgers giving up 7 hits and just 1 run while striking out 6 batters. He will be confident having previously pitched well in his lone starts against the D-backs and it's worth noting that his ERA is better on the road than at home!
This is a really tough spot for the Diamondbacks to be in. Even if it had not been for their 17 inning marathon yesterday, they have struggled against the Braves in the past and given their unenviable home record this season, it would have been tough for them to come away with a victory under normal circumstances. This is an opportunity for the Braves to finally get above a .500 record against a team who is vulnerable at the moment. We don't expect them to waste this opportunity! This is a cheap price to lay with a side that is more rested and more confident.
Other notable facts to consider:
- The Braves are 15-7 in the last 22 meetings overall.
- Arizona is 44-59 in home games over the last 2 seasons.
- The Braves are 6-1 in their last 7 games vs. teams with losing records!
- Arizona is just 3-7 this season as a home underdog of +100 to +125.
#2: Take the UNDER 7.5 total runs in Washington Nationals vs. Toronto Blue Jays risking 3%.
(Zimmermann and Dickey must start for wager to have action)
This interleague matchup will be played tonight under National League rules which mean that both pitchers will be required to take their turn at the plate. This is significant in that it somewhat takes a potential bat out of the lineup. Pitchers are not typically the most proficient hitters at the plate and will occupy a spot that is normally reserved for a much more qualified batter. Because of the National League rules there is no DH in the lineup which will send Blue Jays powerhouse Edwin Encarnacion to the bench tonight. He will not feature in the Blue Jays lineup which takes a very potent bat out of their rotation. In addition, Russell Martin is out of the lineup tonight as well. These are two important players and could cause the Jays to continue struggling.
R.A Dickey will take the mound for the Jays and although he is not the pitcher that he once was, he is a knuckleball pitcher which makes him unique and dangerous. Knuckleballs are one of toughest pitches to hit when a pitcher is on his game and delivery the pitch properly. When Dickey had faced the Nationals as a Met, he had done a great job at baffling this lineup. Many of the Nationals powerhouse hitters have struggled with Dickey in past appearances. Espinosa, Lobaton, Uggla and even Bryce Harper have poor career numbers against Dickey. Not having seen him since the 2012 season could be an advantage for the Jays on the mound tonight. It may take a few appearances at the plate for the players to get accustomed to Dickey's deliver and contribute to keeping this a low scoring game in the early innings.
Jordan Zimmermann will take the mound for the Nationals and he has been superb to start the season having tossed eight consecutive quality starts! He is a handful for any lineup to deal with and is 9-5 with a 3.03 ERA in his career during Interleague Play and has had success in the Blue Jays in the past in his lone career start. The Nationals come into this game off 3 consecutive losses and Matt Williams will likely demand his players to get back to basics, which for the Nationals means solid pitching and good fielding before great hitting.
Toronto isn't the only club missing some key players tonight. The Nationals will be without the services of outfielder Denard Span who left yesterday’s game with muscle stiffness. Span is a solid outfielder and has put up respectable numbers at the plate. Bryce Harper is also dealing with some nagging injuries, but you wouldn't necessarily notice because of his quality play recently but as we mentioned earlier, has struggled in his career against the likes of Dickey.
The weather forecast in DC is calling for a high probability of rain which could have a benefitial impact on this game. Also, while it's not likely, it does also leave the opportunity for this to be a shortened game due to weather. We have seen games called in the 5th and 6th innings this season due to weather and if that happens it will limit the ability of both teams to put runs on the board, hopefully keeping this game low scoring.
The Blue Jays are the highest scoring team in the league and Washington has been quite proficient with their bats as well. It's rare to see a game that Toronto is matched up in with a total below 8 runs and we believe that says a lot about how the oddsmakers expect this game to unfold. Jordan Zimmermann is a toweing right-hander that has proven to be one of the most consistent pitchers in the league and has only given up 3 earned runs in his last 20 innings of work. He should continue his impressive performances tonight against a side that is deflated off back to back 1-run losses against the TWins and hasn't had much experience against him. Meanwhile, Dickey will not continue to struggle as he has been. He has the potential to go out and throw a gem of a game and in this setting we expect him to throw a much "cleaner" game than he has been. Even if Dickey does struggle, we believe Zimmermann should do enough to keep the Blue Jays bats ta bay and prevent them from scoring a significant amount of runs. We expect the final score line of this game to be in the neighborhood of 3-1 or 3-2 which falls under the posted total.
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