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June 8, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)

Take Atlanta Braves (-130) on the Money Line against San Diego Padres risking 3% of bankroll.
(Miller and Kennedy must start for wager to have action)

Part of our job as professional handicappers is to not only identify but take advantage of inefficiencies in the marketplace and find value wherever it presents itself. While our ultimate goal is to be on the winning side, as investors, it's also about ensuring that our clients are not overpaying for odds as the price has to be right for us to back each team. At the opening odds of this matchup, we always felt that the Braves were correct side and that they would likely win this contest, however laying the -160 odds that the books were listing was simply too much to lay. At those odds we felt that the Braves were overpriced and likely should have been more fairly priced around a -140 mark. Due to the inflated odds, we had originally decided to pass on this game however throughout the day however the odds have shifted dramatically.

We have always said that pitchers should not be compared simply by looking at their surface statistics and in most cases that is absolutely true. However in this particular matchup it's evident that Shelby Miller has had the much more productive and "better" overall season thus far than his counterpart. While it would be foolish to simply compare numbers and assume Atlanta is the correct side, the fact that these two pitchers are in different stages of their careers plays a big part in these numbers. Miller is a pitcher who is just starting to come into his own and is entering the prime of his career. We expect that his numbers are much more sustainable moving forward in his career. Meanwhile Ian Kennedy, while a veteran pitcher is likely in the twilight of his career and has been on a gradual decline over the past few seasons. He currently has a 6.60 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, certainly not what the Padres were hoping from him this season and while there may be some improvement throughout the season with his ERA, we do not expect him to have career resurgence and begin pitching like an All Star. Homeruns have plagued Kennedy this season which shows that his accuracy and velocity is no longer what it once was and against an Atlanta team that has shown their affinity for feasting on the long-ball could cause some damage against Kennedy tonight should he continue to struggle. 

Miller is coming off his worst performance on the season and that may have his backers slowly retracting, however even his worst outing wasn't as bad as some may be making it out to be. In 5 innings, he gave up 4 runs on 6 hits while walking two batters. It wasn't a stellar outing; however it certainly wasn't the worst by a pitcher this season. Every pitcher has a few games where they struggle throughout the season and we believe that was simply a poor outing and nothing more. We expect Miller to bounce back tonight. He is still 5-2 on the season with a stellar 1.89 ERA and 1.000 WHIP through 11 starts and Atlanta has lost only 3 of the 11 games that he has started this season! Those type of numbers show just how consistent he has been on the mound. He's also had success against many of the Padres bats in his career including the hard hitting Justin Upton. Yonder Alanso and Clint Barmes also have terrible career numbers against Miller, as does Solarte whom we may see in a pinch hitting role at some point tonight. 

While many Padres have struggled against Miller, The Braves' big bat in lefty Freddie Freeman has absolutely destroyed Kennedy in the past. In 10 career at bats against Kennedy, Freeman has gotten on base each time. He has 6 hits and 4 walks in his career to go along with 8 RBI. You can't get much better numbers than that. If Freeman can have partial success against Kennedy again, that may be enough to guide his team to a victory. It's worth noting that Ian Kennedy's club is 2-14 in road games when working on 5 or 6 days rest!

Both of these teams are coming off shut-out losses last night but it is Atlanta that is a more suitable position to bounce back. They have been great in games following a shut-out loss when they have been listed as favorites in low scoring affairs and also didn't have the travel schedule that the Padres had coming into this contest. After their loss yesterday San Diego had to hop a flight and travel to Atlanta which means the players could come into this contest a bit worn out or jet lagged. With this being a 4 game series, the Braves likely need to win game 1 to set themselves up for the remainder of the series. A strength of this Padres team this season has been their pitching and they have a murderer’s row of pitchers lined up in this series that will likely make things tough on Atlanta. James Shields, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner are some of the elite pitchers in the league and will likely have the advantage on the mound in each of the remaining contests. For the Braves to potentially avoid being swept, they will need to win this one game where they should enjoy the advantage on the mound. 

This matchup also has an interesting story line as several players including former Braves closer and current Padre, Craig Kimbrel may see action tonight. Kimbrel was the Braves' Ace closer for a number of years but in his transition to San Diego he has been less than spectacular. In fact he is coming off his worst MLB game and may be short on confidence coming into tonight. Meanwhile Jason Grilli has been doing a pretty good job for this new-look Atlanta side that's still led by Coach Fredi Gonzalez and his sound principles.

With Atlanta having faced off and struggled against Gerritt Cole, who is having a tremendous season this year, they should an easier time against another righty but one of a much lower quality in Ian Kennedy tonight. Kennedy has been known to have a short fuse and tends to get frustrated with himself if he doesn't get off to a good start and we could see that happen tonight. Meanwhile the San Diego bats were baffled by Johnny Cueto yesterday and also shut-out and they could find themselves in another tough outing tonight against another right handed pitcher with baffling stuff in Shelby Miller.

The Braves have been a much better team at Turner Field than on the road this season and do enjoy a solid home field advantage. Turner Field has proven to be an extremely tough place for opponents to play. The Braves lineup is full of left handed hitters and should have success against Kennedy tonight. Cameron Maybin was traded to Atlanta from San Diego and the Center fielder will be keen to prove a point against his former employers. He's having a pretty good season batting just under .300 with 26 RBI's and 9 stolen bases! Chris Johnson will likely pinch-hit at some point in this game and he also has good numbers against Ian Kennedy in his career. 

Atlanta has proven to be the better defensive team when it comes to fielding. The Braves have 25 errors compared to Padres' 34 and they have also turned more double-plays and have allowed fewer runners to steal bases than their counterparts. Atlanta also has one of the best defensive short-stops in the league in Andrelton Simmons! Given all of the advantages that the Braves have in this contest, it should translate into a closely contested win. At this reduced price, we believe the value is on the home team. 
 
Other notable facts to consider:

  • Shelby Miller's club is 8-1 when the total is 7 to 8.5 runs!
  • The home side has won the last 6 meetings between these two franchises!
  • Padres are 3-8 in their last 11 games when listed as an underdog.
  • The Braves are a perfect 11-0 over the last decade as a favorite with a total under 10 runs after being shut out!



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