The Braves and Cubs just played one of the more entertaining series in the first two months of the Major League season this week that had playoff intensity.
Atlanta looked like a feisty young up-and-comer trying to prove itself to the established contender and won two out of the three games before rain washed out game four. Atlanta won the first game by a run, lost the second game by the same margin and scored three in the eighth inning to break a 1–1 tie on Wednesday.
They also caught a break with the rain on Thursday, as a call-up was set to start against Jon Lester in place of Mike Soroka, who went on the Disable List with a shoulder strain.
Atlanta will give the ball to its hottest pitcher, Sean Newcomb, on Friday in the opener of a three-game set with Miami.
When I watch Atlanta, I see a young, exciting and well-coached team that is looking to improve for the third consecutive season under Brian Snitker.
Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. are two of the most exciting players in the game hitting 1-2 in the lineup and Freddie Freeman is simply one of the best, hitting immediately after them.
The mix of speed, power and skill of those three make them the most formidable first third of any lineup in the game and with the production Tyler Flowers is giving them in the middle of the lineup, Atlanta is a contender to go all the way in the NL.
That wouldn’t be possible without the innings some of the young guys in the rotation are giving them, led by Sean Newcomb. Newcomb hasn’t given up a run in his last 20 innings. He’s 4–1 in eight starts overall and striking out more than 10 batters per 9 innings. He, along with Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, give the Braves something to work with if they sustain this pace and end up in the postseason.
Miami was shutout on Thursday before getting out of town and on to Atlanta. The Marlins will throw Dan Straily, who has pitched his team to three wins in three starts but hasn’t looked good in doing so. He’s walked 11 in 13 innings, hit a batter and given up five home runs. He beat the Braves in his last start and I’m willing to say he doesn’t do that again.
Behind Newcomb, a rested bullpen and an exciting offense that has Atlanta fans thinking playoffs already, the Braves should win this game without too much of a sweat.
Free Pick: Atlanta -1.5
Atlanta Braves • miami marlins • Ozzie Albies • Ronald Acuna Jr. • SunTrust Park