With all due respect to the mediocre New York Mets and disappointing Washington Nationals, it’s starting to look more and more like the NL East Division is going to be a two-team race this season between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Thus, every game the two play against one another is important and they have a three-game set in Atlanta this weekend. The Braves will be series line betting favorites and opened as -127 chalk for Friday.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The Phillies got worse last week and the Braves better. That’s because Philadelphia lost center fielder and leadoff man Andrew McCutchen to a season-ending torn ACL suffered on a rundown play – McCutchen wouldn’t have been hurt if teammate Jean Segura had run out a batted ball. McCutchen was the 2013 NL MVP with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s not that player any longer but was hitting a solid .256 with 10 homers, 29 RBI and a National-League leading 43 walks when he went down.
The good news is the Phillies had recently traded for outfielder Jay Bruce from Seattle, but they still might be in the market for one because of the uncertain status of Odubel Herrera. He’s on administrative leave by MLB because of an alleged domestic violence incident so it’s not clear if he will play again this year or if the Phillies even want him back. The Phillies have money to spend to go trade for whomever they want.
Meanwhile, Atlanta got better by winning the bidding for free-agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel, the former AL Cy Young winner. Draft pick compensation fell off Keuchel last week so it was a robust market for him. He’ll likely need at least one more minor-league start before pitching in the majors but should stabilize a young, talented rotation.
This is the first meeting between the teams in Atlanta, but they played three games in Philadelphia to open the season and the Phillies swept – winning each by at least two runs. Maikel Franco led the Phillies in hitting .444 in the series with two homers and seven RBI. Bryce Harper, in his first series with the Phillies, was 3-for-9 with two solo homers. McCutchen also homered twice. The Phils hit .236 as a team and scored 23 runs.
Atlanta hit .221 in the series and scored just 11 runs. Freddie Freeman was 6-for-10 with two doubles and two RBI. Dansby Swanson was 2-for-8 with a double, homer, two RBI and three runs scored. Nick Markakis struggled, going 1-for-12 with four strikeouts.