Game: San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves
Time: 7:20 p.m. ET
Starting Pitchers: Kevin Gausman vs. Max Fried
Odds: Giants +107, Braves -115
It’s a weekend series featuring two division leaders as Atlanta hosts San Francisco tonight. The Giants have won 18 of their 23 games in August thus far and continue to have the best record in baseball. Not long ago, the Braves were sitting in third place in the NL East. With 16 wins in their last 20 games, Atlanta has taken over the top spot in the division and the Braves now have a 5.5-game lead over second-place Philadelphia.
To get a win over the best team in baseball, the Braves will start left-hander Max Fried. Through 21 starts this season, Fried is 11-7 with a 3.49 ERA and a FIP of 3.41. He has been even better over his last seven trips to the mound. Atlanta is 5-2 in those seven starts and Fried has an ERA of just 1.57.
His strikeout rate is a very impressive 25.4 percent with a WHIP of 0.96. He doesn’t allow many baserunners and, as a result, doesn’t give up many runs. Fried’s last start was a gem. He pitched a complete-game shutout over Baltimore.
Fried will have to contend with a Giants offense that has been one of the best in baseball all season long. San Francisco actually leads MLB in home runs despite having just one player with 20 or more. Mike Yastrzemski has 20 to lead the Giants, but another eight players have at least ten. The Giants rank in the top ten in most offensive statistical categories and they rank in the top ten in the same categories against left-handed pitching.
The Braves are favored in tonight’s game primarily because of a slight pitching advantage. Kevin Gausman was NL Cy Young material early in the season, but more recently he has regressed. Comparing to Fried, Gausman’s last seven starts have been awful. His ERA over those seven games is 5.17 and he has pitched over five innings just once. The low point was giving up six earned runs to the worst-scoring team in baseball, Pittsburgh, in a 10-2 loss.
Despite Gausman’s recent shortcomings, the Giants actually won five of Gausman’s last seven starts. That leaves Gausman’s season record at a very respectable 12-5 with an even more respectable ERA of 2.47. As bad as he has been lately, Gausman still gives the Giants an opportunity to win.
Tonight’s game total is 8.5 and with two quality pitchers, the Under may be in play. Trust Park, the site of tonight’s game, is very pitcher-friendly especially in night games this year. At game time, there will be a 7mph wind blowing in from the outfield. The humidity is expected to be high as well. All of those conditions lend to a decrease in offensive production.
Then, there are the bullpens. San Francisco owns the best bullpen ERA in the majors. Atlanta’s relievers are talented as well led by Will Smith and his 28 saves.