Billy J’s Tuesday MLB Pick – Atlanta Braves @ Boston Red Sox

Our in-house MLB expert, Billy J (+7.91 units), gives his best bet for today!

What a ride it has been the last week or so. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. And that showed yesterday with our 1.5 unit play hitting in the bottom of the eighth where the Mets scored two runs to get us to that magic number of five. To keep the momentum going, I’m going to stick in the National League East and look at this Braves and Red Sox matchup.

Yesterday was slim pickings with seven games and today it is back to the standard 16 game set with all teams in action. The one I’m focusing on in particular is a battle of two teams that have been cold since the weekend. The Braves lost four of five to the Mets in their weekend series and the Red Sox lost three of four on the road against the Kansas City Royals. What immediately jumps out is the current line across all books as the Braves are -160 for the money line and they are the road team here. The opening line as well was the Braves -145 and that has quickly picked up. 

The pitching matchup isn’t something that should dictate this steep of a price. Braves starter Charlie Morton (5-5, 4.09 ERA) has been consistent for most of this season, but has those starts where he racks up the total pitch count and has given up a few earned runs. In his last start, Morton took care of business against a tough Phillies lineup. It was one of his better starts of the year in which he went 6 2/3 innings, three hits, one walk, eight strikeouts and no earned runs in a no-decision effort.

For the Red Sox, they will look for veteran left-hander Rich Hill (4-5, 4.52 ERA) to regain the momentum they previously had when they took two of three the series before against the Houston Astros. Hill faced off against the Astros in his last start and it was the lone team loss in that Astros series. Hill left after three innings due to a strained left groin and received the loss after allowing four earned and just one strikeout.

When looking to make a pick for this matchup, I see several indicators that lean towards the Braves. For starters, Morton has been incredible against the Red Sox in his career as he is 7-1 in his starts and has a 3.72 ERA. The Braves are also a better hitting team against left-handed pitching as their team average is 14 points higher and are 25-12 as a team against left-handed starters. The Braves are also 5-1 in their last six interleague games. Another trend I have noticed too is the Red Sox home field advantage or recent lack thereof as they are 3-7 in their last 10 games at Fenway Park.

Something to look out for tonight as well will be the availability of Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Acuna was a late scratch on Sunday’s finale against the Mets due to lower body soreness, but is listed as probable for tonight. If Acuna cannot go, the Braves will most likely fill that lineup void with left-handed pitching killer Robbie Grossman. In one of the more remarkable splits of anyone this season, Grossman has a .350 average against left-handers and a .149 average against right-handers. The Braves most likely will try to get him in the lineup either way against Hill.

Despite some recent struggles and the potential injury concern for Acuna, the Braves are the pick here even at the steep price of -160 on the road. Morton is coming off an excellent start and is well known to pick it up the second half of the season. The Red Sox continue to fade as August rolls through and remain in last place in the American League East. This is not a good matchup for the Red Sox here and although I am tempted to take the run line with the Braves as the road team, I will play smart yet confident with the money line.

The Pick: Braves -160 for 1.5 units on Caesars SportsBooks

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