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Free Sports Picks: Braves Could be Missing Red-Hot Acuna, Jr.

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On Thursday, August 16, Oskeim Sports previews the MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves.  Oskeim recommends taking the Rockies as one of his free sports picks for Thursday.

Oskeim also recommends taking the Toronto Blue Jays as one of his free sports picks for Thursday night.

Colorado right-hander Jon Gray has compiled outstanding peripherals in 2018, including a 3.23 FIP, 3.10 xFIP and a 3.36 SIERA in 22 starts (127.1 IP). The 26-year-old toes the rubber with a career-high strikeout rate (27.1%) and a very good 47.7% groundball rate.

Gray posted a 1.66 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 2.88 FIP and a 60.7% groundball rate across 21.2 July innings and his command continues to trend in the right direction (1.46, 1.48, 1.51, 0.69, 1.09; April thru August).

Since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on July 14, Gray is 2-0 with a 2.29 in five starts.

Gray is a perfect 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in four career starts against the Braves, including throwing six shutout innings at Atlanta last season.  He may not have to face one of the games hottest hitters in rookie Ronald Acuna Jr., who was hit by a pitch on the forearm above his left elbow last night.

Acuna had hit and scored in eight straight games, going 16-for-34 (.471) with a 1.749 OPS over that stretch.  Since moving to the leadoff spot in the first game after the All-Star Game, Acuna is hitting .358 with 12 home runs, 25 runs scored, 24 RBI and an .821 slugging percentage.

Gray’s counterpart, Julio Teheran, takes the mound with a 4.33 ERA, 5.23 FIP and a 4.80 xFIP in 23 starts this season (126.2 IP). Teheran’s subpar arsenal is masked by an unsustainable .226 BABIP.

The 27-year-old is susceptible to the long ball (1.56 HR/9), lacks command (4.48 BB/9) and doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (38.5% GB%).

Batters are squaring up on Teheran’s pitches as evidenced by his career-high 38.8% hard contact rate. Don’t be fooled by his 3.99 ERA at home this season, which is largely a product of a .240 BABIP.

Teheran’s hard contact rate (38.9%), 4.52 BB/9 rate and 4.77 xFIP undermine his perceived “success” at home in 2018.  He will now have to contend with Colorado shortstop Trevor Story, who is batting .331 since June 1.

Story leads the National League in total bases (250) and is among the league leaders in extra-base hits (63), doubles (33), RBI (83) and home runs (25).  Colorado is also expected to welcome back third baseman Nolan Arenado (sore shoulder), who served as the team’s designated hitter in the Astros’ series.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s offense has been trending in the wrong direction: 5.6 runs per game (April), 4.5 runs per game (May), 5.0 runs per game (June), 4.3 runs per game (July) and 4.4 runs per game in August.

Oskeim Sports’ Free Sports Picks for August 16:

  • Colorado Rockies (-111) over Atlanta Braves
  • Toronto Blue Jays (-129) over Kansas City Royals

Oskeim Sports looks forward to serving your sports betting needs and providing free sports picks throughout the upcoming football seasons!