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July 10, 2016

There is one underdog pick today.

Take Atlanta Braves (+152) on the ML against Chicago White Sox risking 3% to win 4.56%.
(Foltynewicz and Shields must both start for wager to have action)

The Braves will go into the All-Star break with the worst record in the National League but that doesn't mean backing them selectively in certain situations hasn't been profitable. They have won 30 times this season and cashed in high payoff tickets, given that they find themselves installed as significant underdogs in most contests. This is a pitching matchup that gives them an advantage and a decent chance of coming out on top.

Mike Foltynewicz isn't a name that many know about right now. He's a Chicago-native whose fastball averages 95.2 mph! That velocity gives him some margin for error as hitters sometimes foul pitches off that they would be able to square against most others. Of course major-leaguers are good fast-ball hitters and he'll have to mix up his pitches and throw some off-speed ones to catch the likes of Brett Lawrie off-guard. The Southsiders do have power in their lineup but they also have aggressive hitters that chase pitchers out of the strke-zone and are therefore prone to punchouts. The lack of familiarity with Foltynewicz is a big advantage of Atlanta this afternoon. That's because this White Sox lineup has just 7 combined at-bats against him! Five of those are Todd Frazier while Melky Cabrera and JB Shuck have each stepped up to the plate just once against him as a pinch-hitter. To say this team has little experience against the hard-throwing righty would be an understatement! That gives him a leg up in the first couple of orders through the lineup while Chicago batters get to his delivery and pitching style.

On the other hand, James Shields has been in the Majors for over a decade and despite this being an interleague matchup, Braves have seen plenty of him over the years! Every player except Chase d'Arnaud has prior plate experience against him and veterans like Markakis and former White Sox players AJ Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham, who had 3 hits yesterday, have each had 20+ previous at-bats against him! Shields won't be able to catch them off-guard and 'surprise' the ATL lineup in the way that Foltynewicz will be able to if he mixes his pitches well. And of course James Shields is not the pitcher he used to be and his seasonal numbers show it. It's been a disastrous first half of the season for the former All-Star as he's 4-9 with a 5.67 ERA! He's been hit hard in all but a few of his starts this year as he no longer has as much velocity nor life (movement) on his pitches.

The Braves bullpen should be in better shape today given that Julio Teheran gave them 6 innings yesterday with Ian Krol tossing the final two innings in what was a narrow road loss. That gave the rest of the relievers a much needed day off to rest their arms and be back fresh today. The White Sox, however, had to use 3 of their best relievers to get the job done and with closer David Robertson once again unavailable today (injury), they're not in their best state. The likes of Nate Jones had to throw plenty of pitches yesterday and survived a scare in the 9th inning and with the Braves hitters having seen him, Albers and Duke in action last night, they'll have a better idea of how to get on-base when facing them. We believe this will be a closely contested game that could go either way and if anything Atlanta has the edge in the starting pitching matchup. All the pressure is on the home side in this contest as they find themselves installed as big favorites, when they shouldn't be. Shields has given up 6 earned runs in 3 of his starts for Chicago and was underperforming as a San Diego Padre as well earlier in the season! Given the attractive odds on offer, we find the White Sox overvalued in this particular spot and worth fading. Back the big underdogs as they have a better chance to win this game than these odds indicate.

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