Today’s game starts at 1:05 pm EST.
Atlanta: RHP Mike Foltynewicz: 3-3; 2.72
Boston: LHP Chris Sale: 5-1; 2.17 ERA
After a heartbreaking loss for the Braves (and a great come from behind victory for the Red Sox), Mike Foltynewicz takes the mound today for Atlanta. There are some signs Foltynewicz seems to have put it together this year, allowing 2 runs or less in 9 of his 10 starts. His K/9 is up to 10.53 this year, easily a career high. However, SIERA is not kind to him, nor are FIP or xFIP all of which have him positioned more in the 3.50-4.00 run range. I tend to agree that there is some good luck in play here, as his hard contact rate went from a career average of under 30% to 34.5% so far in 2018. In addition, there’s been no improvement to things like his groundball rate that might off-set those numbers.
Chris Sale hasn’t quite been Chris Sale this year. Somethings been just a little off. But a “little off” version of Chris Sale has a 5-1 record with a 2.17 ERA. His last start showed him starting to round into his true form, as he struck out 9 in 7.2 innings of 1 run ball. His K/9 is now up to 12.23, which is not far off his 12.93 from last season and well above his 10.63 career average. His walk rate is up 1%, but his opponents batting average against is better this year at .184 (vs .206 in 2017). Sale has been throwing more fastballs in 2018 than he did in 2017 and has used his slider 3% less. This could be due to the fact that earlier in the season he said he was having trouble consistently finding the slider. His average 4 seam fastball velocity still sits at 95 MPH (same as 2017).
In his only career start against the Braves, Sale was beat down for 8 earned runs.
Players to Watch – Fantasy Sports
Atlanta: Kurt Suzuki & Nick Markakis are the only two Braves with significant plate appearances against Chris Sale, given their time spent in the American League. Both have surprisingly good numbers. Suzuki has a .320/.400/.400 line against Sale in 30 plate appearances. Markakis has a .357/.471/.643 line in 17 plate appearances. 3 of the 6 Braves with any plate appearances against Sale, homered off him (most in their only game against him).
Boston: Benintendi has been absolutely raking in the last 15 games with a .362/.435/.655 line. He has 3 home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 7 games. Keep a close eye on Benintendi. If Benintendi and Bogaerts keep pace with what Betts & Martinez are doing, this team will be tough to beat.
Placing a Bet? Thoughts on the odds.
Atlanta to Win: Given the -125 odds on the Sox to cover 1.5, I like the Braves to sneak by a 3-2 or 4-3 win in today’s game with the odds at +205. Given some of the stats mentioned above, if the Braves can get some baserunners, they have plenty of guys that can run into one if Sale makes a mistake. Again, I only like this bet given the +205 odds. They have only been swept once all season.
Over / Under: I like the under on today’s game. Even with my evaluation of Foltynewicz above, I think given the high scoring affairs thusfar and two aces on the mound, there’s a good chance this one comes up under 7.5. The bullpen has been used quite a bit of late, so expect Cora to let Sale go deep in this one if he’s on.
Kimbrel pitched back to back nights against the Braves. Its safe to assume he and Joe Kelly may both be unavailable today. Look for the Red Sox to be aggressive early trying to get some runs.