Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves on Friday was a throwback pitchers’ duel with Corbin Burnes and Charlie Morton trading zeroes for the first six innings. Neither offense could get anything going until the bottom of the seventh inning when the Brewers’ Rowdy Tellez crushed a two-run homer to right-center off Morton to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead. The Brewers would hold on, barely, the rest of the way en route to a 2-1 win.
Now, the pressure is really on the Braves to tie up the series and avoid a 2-0 NLDS deficit with the games shifting to Atlanta. They couldn’t have asked for more from Morton on Friday but just didn’t get any help from a usually potent offense that was completely shut down by Burnes. It won’t be that much easier for Atlanta against Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff, however, while the Braves will give the ball to impressive lefty Max Fried in another great pitching matchup.
First pitch from Milwaukee on Saturday is at 5:07 p.m. ET. The BetUS Sportsbook has the Brewers as -118 moneyline favorites and as +165 favorites on the runline. The Braves are +108 moneyline underdogs and -195 underdogs on the runline. MLB lines have the over/under at 7 runs.
Fried Has Been Incredible
It’s not always a smart idea to assume that late-season success in the home stretch of the regular season will automatically translate to the playoffs but it certainly helps. If Fried’s pitching in September and October means anything for how he’ll pitch today, then the Braves have a great chance at evening up this series at one game apiece.
In his last six starts (41 innings), Fried posted a minuscule 1.54 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP to go with a .162 opponent batting average. He was a big reason the Braves were able to coast to the NL East crown as he wrapped up a stellar second “full” MLB season. Fried isn’t a huge strikeout pitcher — just fewer than nine strikeouts per nine innings — so he has to do everything well to succeed, from limiting walks and hits to doing a good job of preventing home runs. The Brewers will have their hands full with him.
If you’re betting online, go with Fried and the Braves moneyline. Fried will build on his strong 2020 playoff performance against an inconsistent Brewers’ lineup.
Woodruff Much More Hittable in Second Half
Woodruff made his second All-Star team this season and ended up putting together a pretty great 2021 campaign, with a 2.56 ERA and 211 strikeouts in 179.1 innings. He didn’t produce at the same level as Burnes but, then again, almost no one in baseball did. Still, Woodruff performed well enough to likely garner some NL Cy Young votes and has a good argument for being the best No. 2 starter in baseball.
However, Woodruff’s performance dropped off a bit after the All-Star break. He had a 2.06 ERA and 0.821 WHIP in the first half of the season and a 3.41 ERA and 1.212 WHIP in the second half, showing that he definitely cooled down as the season went on. Maybe his most concerning first half/second half split is with home runs, as he only gave up nine home runs in 113.1 first half innings but gave up nine dingers in just 66 second half innings. That could be a big issue against the Braves and their power.
The MLB playoff odds still favor the Brewers overall; however, they don’t have the Braves as particularly big underdogs which is a sign that Vegas thinks Atlanta can get to Woodruff. There isn’t that much juice on the Braves moneyline but it’s enough of an enticement that you should take it.
Milwaukee Bullpen Options Limited
Of course, not having Devin Williams in this series is a big blow to the Brewers’ bullpen because it puts a lot more pressure on Josh Hader and the combo of effective starters-turned-relievers (for the postseason at least) Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer. Those three pitchers are, by far, Milwaukee’s most trusted ‘pen options, especially so considering that Brent Suter is also out of the NLDS with an oblique strain.
Craig Counsell leaned heavily on Hader (20 pitches) and Houser (26 pitches) on Friday. Hader has experience pitching on no rest so he’ll be available tonight but Houser, who was a starter for Milwaukee all season, likely won’t be asked to pitch a second-straight day. That means the Brewers’ likely bullpen arms for high-leverage situations today are Hader, Lauer, and maybe Brad Boxberger. However, beyond those guys, the Brewers don’t have a ton of trusted and experienced guys. That could be an issue.
So, if you’re making MLB picks, go with the Braves. They should be able to score some runs off Woodruff and, for them, hopefully get to the Milwaukee bullpen earlier than they did on Friday.