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NL Division Leaders Clash In Atlanta

Red-Hot Giants Continue Road Trip vs Braves

The San Francisco Giants go for a sixth straight road win when they take on the Atlanta Braves in the first of a three-game series on Friday night. The series opener is scheduled for a 7:20 p.m. ET first pitch at Truist Park in Atlanta.

The Giants are coming off a three-game sweep of the New York Mets and hold the top record in baseball at 83-44. San Francisco is atop the National League West standings, leading the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers by 2½ games.

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves celebrates a win after a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images/AFP

Atlanta has had two days off since being swept in a two-game series by the New York Yankees, which snapped the team’s nine-game winning streak. The Braves are 68-58 and in first place in the NL East, 5½ games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies and 7½ games ahead of the third-place New York Mets.

If you’re going to bet online on this game, the MLB lines have the Braves with a moneyline of -121, with the Giants listed at +111. The over/under for the series opener set at 8½ runs.

Still on Top

The Giants’ closest pursuer in the NL West, the Dodgers, have won 12 of their last 13, yet San Francisco continues to lead the division. The two teams have a series next week in San Francisco, but that’s the last time they’ll meet unless it’s in the postseason.

Not that the road is going to be entirely easy, with this series against the Braves followed by a home set against the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers before the Dodgers come to town. San Francisco also has 10 games remaining with the San Diego Padres, though they’re falling out of playoff contention quickly.

One of the top candidates for NL Cy Young honors when looking at MLB odds, right-hander Kevin Gausman, will be on the mound for Friday’s game. Gausman is 12-5 with a 2.47 ERA and has won his last three decisions.

The 30-year-old is 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts this month. He’s been extremely good on the road, going 6-2 with a 1.70 ERA in 14 starts. His last start against Oakland on Saturday lasted just 3.2 innings, as he allowed two earned runs (five total) on six hits.

San Francisco got a home run by Kris Bryant in completing the sweep of the Mets 3-2 on Thursday night. The Giants didn’t exactly dominate the series, but they did come away with a win in every game.

“It’s a sign of a good team,” Giants pitcher Alex Wood said after Thursday’s win. “We’ve got some good momentum rolling. We haven’t played our cleanest baseball lately, but we still have a good team. We come out, we get big hits. We’re still chugging along, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

While the Giants haven’t played the Braves yet, Bryant has during his time with the Chicago Cubs, batting .375 with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs in 24 at-bats. That’s his second-highest batting average against an opponent this season.

Hoping to Rebound

The Braves are winning the NL East thus far, but they’ve been building their record against some of the bottom feeders of the league. Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak prior to the series sweep by the Yankees came against Washington, Miami, and Baltimore, all teams that are far out of playoff contention.

Things get a little more difficult now with this series with the Giants followed by a trip to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers. Still, the Braves follow that with 13 straight games against fourth- or fifth-place teams before facing the Giants again. They don’t have to face their biggest challengers in the division race, the Phillies and Mets, until the season’s final week.

First baseman Freddie Freeman is the reigning NL MVP, but to improve his odds in the BetUS Sportsbook, he needs to get going. He is batting .296 but hasn’t driven in a run in five games, with two doubles his only extra-base hits over that span.

Shortstop Dansby Swanson is on a six-game hit streak and has driven in five runs over his last four games. He could be a spark for the Braves if he can stay hot.

Left-hander Max Fried will make the start for the Braves. The 27-year-old is 11-7 with a 3.49 ERA and has been nearly untouchable in August.

In four starts this month, Fried is 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA, going at least six innings in each outing. He’s coming off a complete-game shutout of the Orioles on Aug. 20 in which he allowed just four hits while striking out four and walking none.

Series Outlook

As you might expect, the Giants have been very good on the road this season, going 41-25, while the Braves are just 31-31 at home.

Logan Webb (7-3, 2.84 ERA) will get the start in the series’ second game for San Francisco, which has yet to name a starter for the series finale. The Braves will counter with Drew Smyly (9-3, 4.54) and Ian Anderson (5-5, 3.56).

The MLB series prices have the both teams listed at -115.

Braves Earn Win

Atlanta has had a little time to rest up for this series and Fried has been great this month. He should be able to keep the Giants in check in this one, allowing the Braves to get off to a good start in the series.

When you’re making your MLB picks, take Atlanta to win at home.

Pick: Atlanta Braves -121

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