The Atlanta Braves begin second-half life without superstar Ronald Acuna Jr., who is out for the season, on Friday night as the Braves host the Tampa Bay Rays in an interleague matchup. The MLB odds slightly favor the Braves behind Charlie Morton.
How to Bet Rays at Braves MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Friday, 7:20 PM ET
- Where: Truist Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Michael Wacha/Charlie Morton
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: Braves -130, Rays +120 (total 9)
Why Bet on Tampa Bay?
The Rays (53-37, .589) reached the All-Star break with the 2nd-best winning percentage in franchise history behind their 54-34 (.614) mark in 2010. They have the 3rd-best record through 90 games in club history, going 55-35 in both 2008 and 2010 – they went on to win the AL East in both seasons.
Star reliever Nick Anderson threw a bullpen session recently and remains on track to return to the Rays’ bullpen at some point in August. Anderson would provide a massive boost to the Rays’ loaded bullpen if he’s able to return for the final two months of the regular season. The 31-year-old righty has been sidelined since being diagnosed with a partially-torn UCL back in March.
It’s expected to be Michael Wacha (2-2, 4.87) on the mound. Wacha allowed one run over six innings of work last Wednesday in a victory over the Indians during the first game of a doubleheader. Wacha gave up a solo homer to Franmil Reyes in the second inning, and that was it. He allowed just four hits. The righty put forth his second quality start of 2021 and his first since April 1.
Through his first 6 appearances (4 starts) of the season, he had allowed a 52.4 percent hard-hit rate and an avg. exit velocity of 93.1 mph, the 4th and 9th-highest rates in the majors (min. 50 batted balls). However, since returning from the injured list on May 23 his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate over his last 9 appearances (6 starts) have been 87.5 mph and 34.7 pct., respectively. That stretch as lowered his average exit velocity this season to 90.8 mph and hard-hit rate to 43.9 percent.
Wacha has thrown first-pitch strikes to 67.9 percent of his batters faced this season and is averaging 15.8 pitches per inning. His first-pitch strike percentage would be a career high, ahead of 2017 (65.8 pct.). Batters are swinging 40.8 percent of the time on the first pitch of a plate appearance, tied for the 2nd-highest in the majors and highest in the AL (min. 40 IP).
Left-handed batters are hitting .301 against him this season, the highest of his career. His .274 average against right-handed batters is his lowest since 2018 (.225). Wacha hasn’t faced the Braves this year.
The Rays have allowed 3 runs (or fewer) 51 times this season, most in the AL and 2nd in the majors behind the Mets (53), and are 42-9 when doing so.
Why Bet on Atlanta?The Braves come out of the break 44-45 and four games out of first in the NL East – after losing superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season-ending injury right before the break, the Braves probably aren’t winning that division for a fourth straight season. Acuna Jr. hit .283 (84-for-297) with a .990 OPS, which is the fourth-best mark in the majors. He also leads all major leaguers with 72 runs scored, while his 24 home runs lead the team.
Since moving to Atlanta in 1966, the club has had a losing record at the break 25 times, including a franchise-worst 31-58 record in 2016. The club’s best mark at the All-Star Game came in 1998, when they went 59-29 in the first half. Atlanta has not had a winning record one time this season. The Braves have been .500 six different times, though. After 4-4, 12-12 and 29-29, Atlanta lost four consecutive games each time. After 17-17, they lost three straight and after 24-24, they lost the next two games. At 44-44, they lost the finale before the break.
After a slow start due to a bit of bad luck, Freddie Freeman started another All-Star Game. This season, Freeman is hitting .331 with men on base and has clubbed 12 extra base hits with 38 RBI. With men in scoring position, Freeman is hitting .348 with six extra base hits and 38 RBI. Over his last 17 games, Freeman is batting .413 with a .500 on-base percentage and a .635 slugging percentage (1.135 OPS).
On the flip side, shortstop Dansby Swanson is struggling. He sports a .243 batting average with 102 strikeouts, a 28.2% Krate. The 102 strikeouts have him tied for sixth in the majors for most strikeouts by any hitter. Swanson did finish the first half of the season going 9-for-19 at the plate. He needs to build off of that hot streak in the second half of the season to help replace the production left by Acuna.
It will be former Rays right-hander Charlie Morton (8-3, 3.64) on the mound. Morton shut out the Marlins for seven innings in the Braves’ 5-0 victory last Friday. He retired nine of the first 10 Marlins batters and 11 of the final 12 to face him, lowering his ERA from 3.91 to 3.64. It was the third time in five starts that Morton has pitched at least seven scoreless innings.
Only a few Tampa Bay players have ever faced their former teammate in a regular-season game.
- Rays 4, Braves 3
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