The Atlanta Braves try to win their fourth straight when they host the Philadelphia Phillies for the opening game of a four-game series on Friday night. The series opener is scheduled for a 7:20 p.m. ET first pitch at Truist Park in Cumberland, Ga.
Philadelphia has won four in a row, sweeping a home series with the Milwaukee Brewers, including a 2-0 win on Thursday. The Phillies are 17-15 and sitting atop the NL East standings, one game ahead of the second-place New York Mets.
Atlanta has won three in a row, sweeping its home series with the Washington Nationals, capped by a 3-2 victory on Thursday. The Braves improved to 15-16 with the win and are 1½ games behind the Phillies in the NL East.
Looking at the MLB odds for this one, Atlanta has a moneyline of -147, while Philadelphia is at +132. The over/under for the contest is set at 7½ runs.
Picking it Up
Right-hander Zach Eflin will be on the mound, hoping to keep the Phillies’ roll going. Eflin is 1-1 with a 3.49 ERA, striking out 34 and walking two in his 38⅔ innings.
Eflin is coming off a six-inning stint in his last start against the Mets on Sunday, allowing two runs on 10 hits but striking out seven and walking none. It was his fourth straight start of at least six innings in which he hasn’t walked a batter.
The Phillies have been able to put together their winning streak without Bryce Harper, as the team’s leading hitter has been sidelined since Sunday with a wrist injury. It’s uncertain if he’ll be ready to go, which would be a big loss. Harper is batting .317 with five doubles, six home runs, and 10 RBI but has played in just one game since April 28 due to being hit in the face with a pitch, then tweaking his wrist injury in his return.
Rhys Hoskins has eight home runs and 18 RBI for the Phillies, while third baseman Alec Bohm has contributed four home runs and 16 RBI.
“We have great pitching. We’ve got a deep lineup. But I think one thing that stands out to me is how we fight,” Bohm said after the win.
The Braves aren’t lighting up the scoreboard as their big bats have cooled off a bit, but they’re doing enough to get victories, which is better than the four-game losing streak they had prior to the series with the Nationals.
Right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is the NL MVP favorite at +225, as he’s tied for the league lead with 10 home runs and tied for 13th with a .324 batting average. He’s also driven in 21 runs and scored 29 runs.
The reigning NL MVP, first baseman Freddie Freeman, has been ice cold, failing to get a hit in his last four games and batting just .202. Freeman was 1-for-20 over the last week before getting the day off on Thursday.
Veteran right-hander Charlie Morton will make his seventh start. Morton is 2-1 with a 5.08 ERA in his first season with Atlanta, striking out 39 and walking 12 in 33⅔ innings.
This will be Morton’s third start against the Phillies, having gone 1-1. Morton allowed four runs on 10 hits over 11 innings in the two starts, striking out 12 and walking three.
Braves Win Opener
Atlanta has been playing well and has its best hitter in its lineup for this one in Acuna. Philadelphia would get a boost from having Harper, though how well he’d play is anyone’s guess.
Morton has experience against the Phillies and got a win in his last start against them at home. Eflin didn’t record a decision in his two starts against Atlanta though his only two walks came against the Braves.
This will be a tight one, as this whole series should be, but when you’re making your MLB picks, go with the Braves to open with a win.