The first-place Braves try and avoid a sweep Wednesday afternoon in the second game of a quick two-game series against the Mets. Behind a strong effort from Zack Wheeler on Tuesday evening, the Mets took care of the Braves and climbed to within 18 games in the NL East. Atlanta trots young Alex Wood out to the hill against fellow lefty Jonathan Niese. Atlanta opens as a definitive -135 road favorite with a total of 7.0.
Alex Wood is just yet another very young and very talented player from the National League that many baseball fans haven’t had the chance to watch a whole lot yet this season. After spending some time in the Braves ‘pen in the middle of this season, Wood finally got a crack at the starting rotation when Tim Hudson went down with that gruesome ankle injury. Wood’s dominance has pushed Hudson to the back of many heads in Atlanta.
I strongly urge any and all to get a look at this kid if you have the chance. Wood shows a corky delivery but has flat out nasty stuff to go along with it. A deceptively hard fastball from the left side with filthy off-speed stuff, Wood has been dominant against batters from both sides of the plate – surrendering just 39 hits in over 51 innings pitched this season. After a slightly slow start upon joining the rotation, Wood has been nearly un-hittable over his last three outings. He has conceded nine hits and two runs in 18.2 innings pitched and carries that momentum into New York where he looks to bounce back from the last time he faced the Mets. On the 25th of July Wood struggled against these Mets when he allowed four runs and eight hits in just over four innings of work. With confidence high and now seemingly adjusted to life as a major league starter, Wood should throttle the Mets lineup and leave them relatively helpless. Look for Wood to pitch into the sixth or seventh innings and not give up more than a couple runs.
On the other side, Jonathan Niese just isn’t a very quality starting pitcher in this league anymore. Niese’s 4.25 ERA isn’t horrible but a WHIP over 1.50 just won’t get it done. Niese is significantly better when he pitches at home – where he will be on Wednesday. But he has struggled against Atlanta this season – posting a 12.27 ERA in two poor starts against the Braves and all of their productivity from the right side.
This matchup looks to be a big mis-match on paper. Wood is coming into his own and Niese hasn’t shown much to warrant even considering backing him here against the Braves. The total at 7.0 seems to be too low but the Wood factor makes me approach that over with caution. The Braves look too good to pass up on here.
Free Pick: Atlanta -1 (-118)