MLB Game Preview: Atlanta Braves at Texas Rangers

May 17, 2023

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Game: Atlanta Braves @ Texas Rangers

Time: 8:05 p.m.

Odds: Braves -156, Rangers +144

Total: 7.5

Today’s game in Texas features the best pitching matchup of the day.  Atlanta’s Spencer Strider squares off against the Rangers’ Nathan Eovaldi. With his impressive mustache and overpowering fastball, Strider has emerged as a rising pitching star in MLB. He’s a huge fan favorite too.

After eight starts in 2023, the standout pitcher for the Braves has a 2.51 earned run average and a 2.40 expected earned run average (xERA). He has somehow topped his spectacular performance in 2022. Last year, Strider held opposing batters to a .179 xBA while also recording a strikeout rate of 38.9%. Both of these numbers appeared impossible to maintain, but the former Clemson star has done the impossible.

Strider has improved his strikeout rate to an astounding 42.9% and dropped his xBA to .174. That’s not all. Strider is in the top 15 percent of all pitchers in chase rate, whiff rate, xSLG, and xERA. He is truly one of the elite pitchers in MLB right now.

In his first season with Texas, Eovaldi hasn’t exactly left a stellar first impression. After his fifth start, he had a 5.20 earned run average and had struggled mightily through his first few appearances on the mound. However, it looks like Eovaldi was the victim of some unfortunate circumstances.

Opponents hit .308 in those first five starts but had an xBA of .268. Since those first five starts, Eovaldi has been outstanding. At the end of April, Eovaldi faced the New York Yankees and threw a complete game shutout while allowing just three hits. This game marked the beginning of Eovaldi’s scoreless streak. Since then, Eovaldi has not allowed an earned run. He pitched 8.2 scoreless innings against the Athletics and 8 scoreless innings against the Angels.

Eovaldi’s scoreless streak now stands at 28.2 innings heading into tonight. In his last three starts, hitters have a batting average of just .131 and an xBA of .179. Eovaldi’s strikeout rate is 28 percent and his hard-hit rate is at 35 percent. He goes up against a Braves lineup that has a wRC+ of 99 against right-handed pitchers (the Braves have a wRC+ of 156 against lefties).

Both teams are among the top-5 in scoring. Texas leads the majors with an average of 6.2 runs per game. Atlanta is fifth, scoring 5.32 runs per game. It’s no surprise then that both teams have trended Over recently and for the season. Texas and Atlanta rank third and fourth, respectively, in Over percentage this season. The Rangers O/U record is 25-15-2 and Atlanta’s is 25-16-1.

Four of the last five Rangers games and eight of the last 12 Braves contests have gone Over the total. The Over is also 5-1 the last six times that the Braves have visited Globe Life Park. Atlanta is just 4-11 SU in the last 15 games against the Rangers.

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