Braves Heavy Favorites in Divisional Home Game

The Braves welcome the Nationals on Saturday night hoping to protect a 6.5-game lead in the National League East. The Braves broke a three-game skid with a victory on Friday while the Nationals continued their inconsistent ways after the All-Star break. Here’s a sports betting look ahead to Saturday night’s contest between the National League East rivals.

Atlanta carried a two-run lead into the ninth inning with the bottom of the Nationals order tasked with rallying late. After a Ryan Zimmerman single, Victor Robles stepped to the plate with two outs…

Read More

Unfortunately, the Nationals could not complete the comeback victory. In the bottom of the ninth, three Braves reached base to start the inning and allow Josh Donaldson to win the game — 4-3 — with a walk-off single.

Tonight, the Nationals send Anibal Sanchez to the mound while the Braves counter with upstart Mike Soroka. The Braves are installed as heavy favorites with the home team pegged at -166 on FanDuel Sportsbook, at the time of this writing. The implied game total is 10 runs.

Stat of the Night

Atlanta will be warm and humid — normally a good context for the long ball. However, Braves’ starting pitcher Mike Soroka is cultivating a reputation for keeping the baseball in the yard. Mike Soroka leads all of Major League Baseball (min. 80 innings pitched) with a 0.4 HR/9. Facing 394 batters thus far, Soroka has only yielded four home runs.

Prop ShopTo Hit a Home Run Props on FanDuel Sportsbook

As mentioned above, Mike Soroka suppresses home runs. So, the Nationals are not interesting — especially, at comparable prices to the Braves. Instead, if speculating on power tonight in Atlanta, focus on the Braves side.

After a relatively resurgent season in 2018, Anibal Sanchez is crashing back down to Earth in 2019. In 2019, Sanchez is continuing the trend of giving up fly balls in bunches to the right side of the plate. Sanchez’s 44.8 FB% will not play well with a team rife with right-handed power.

Ronald Acuna, Jr. (+390) and Josh Donaldson (+360) would represent the most likely power options to take advantage of Anibal’s fly ball lean. Austin Riley boasts the largest fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching (45.3%) and carries a +430 price tag. Riley’s lineup status will be worth monitoring as Ender Inciarte was just activated by the Braves on Thursday.

Pitching Primer

Already addressed above, Mike Soroka is emerging as a reliable arm for the Braves as they quest for a playoff run. Armed with a strong lineup of hitters, the Braves will need Soroka to continue his steady performance during the stretch run if hoping to hold off both the Phillies and Nationals.

Soroka is not a swing-and-miss type of pitcher. Instead, he relies on a massive groundball rate (57%) and a respectable walk rate (5.6%). The lack of strikeouts is a concern — Soroka does not possess the dynamic type of stuff to baffle hitters. For that reason, regression may be a concern down the stretch.

Soroka’s 3.61 xFIP compared to a 2.24 ERA suggests he has been a bit lucky thus far. His 14.5% hard-to-soft contact ratio suggests he is giving up a bit too much hard contact and his 6.9 HR/FB% is a little low even for a groundball pitcher. Lucky for Soroka and the Braves, the Nationals rest in the bottom ten of the MLB with a 88 wRC+ and .172 ISO against right-handed pitching.

Opposite Soroka will be the aforementioned Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez resembles a veteran version of the young Soroka, representing a reliable option for the chasing Nationals. Sanchez earned a quality start in five of his last six outings. Unfortunately, that’s just about where the positives end.

Over those last six outings, Sanchez also yielded one home run per game. Sanchez’s 3.71 ERA is significantly lower than his 5.09 xFIP. Considering xFIP is ballpark-agnostic, a shift to Atlanta should not be considered advantageous. His inability to miss bats (19.5 K%) and new-found penchant for walks (8.9%) will not hold up well down the stretch.

Simply put, Anibal Sanchez is a stick of dynamite primed to explode. The Atlanta offense — welcoming Sanchez with a .194 ISO against right-handed pitching — may just be the match.

The Pick

The Braves side of tonight’s game is considerably more desirable but comes at a price. Even with Sanchez’s struggles and a hot Braves offense, laying -166 is steep in baseball when factoring in the uncertainty of late-inning bullpen activity. I need a discount.

So, similar to last Sunday, I will focus on the portion of the game likely commanded by the starting pitchers. FanDuel Sportsbook pegs the Braves as -152 favorites for the first five innings of the game — offering a bit of a break to moneyline bettors. I will take the slightly discounted price and take the Braves to lead after five innings at -152 on FanDuel Sportsbook.

(Top Photo:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Quick Links

Preview the cases made for NFC North win totals.

Did the market overreact to Max Scherzer’s historic month? Check the Cy Young Odds update with Matt Schmitto.

What impact did the Houston-Oklahoma City trade have any NBA Finals odds?

Follow us on Twitter @RGSportsBetting. Have you downloaded the SharpSide app yet? Download it, keep track of your bets, seek and give advice with the rest of the SharpSide community.

About the Author