The Atlanta Braves are riding hot bats into Monday's road trip to take on the Tampa Bay Rays — and they'll need it against such a strong pitching opponent.
After Sunday's dominant 14-1 win over the NL East rival Mets, Atlanta turns its attention to some fun interleague action. Tampa Bay continues its home stand after rattling off two straight wins against the Blue Jays.
What will give in this duel of 2-1 teams? Find more betting intel through abe Insights' betting preview, highlighted by the best available odds upon publication, wagers analysis and a brief, advanced statistical guide to aid your bet thought process.
Date: Monday, July 27
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Implied Probabilities: Braves 43%; Rays 57%
Spread: ATL +1.5 (-160); TB -1.5 (+135)
Moneyline: ATL +130; TB -134
Another positive development from Sunday for Atlanta beyond the trouncing of the Mets was that prized reliever Will Smith got cleared from the COVID-19 list. Smith signed a three-year, $39 million deal to join the bullpen, an area the Braves really needed to upgrade.
The pitching probables for Monday are Tyler Glasnow for the Rays against Mike Foltynewicz. It should be an excellent duel, particularly if the latter can return to his 2018 form, when he finished eighth in AL Cy Young Award voting.
7.7 vs. 1.1: No one in the big leagues had a better bullpen WAR than Tampa Bay last season. The Braves were barely above replacement level (21st in MLB), yet Smith offers a legitimate ray of optimism for the visitors, and could make his debut Monday.
11.0 vs. 8.4: These two teams ranked seventh and eighth in Base Running Runs Above Average (BsR) in 2019. Atlanta has the marginal advantage, yet this underscores how savvy both lineups are on the base paths, which helps them manufacture runs better than most.
11.27 vs. 8.08: Lastly, this is a comparison of last year's strikeouts per nine innings for both starting pitchers. Glasnow would've ranked in the top 10 among full-time starters if he had enough innings pitched to qualify.
Glasnow logged a 6-1 record with a 1.78 ERA in 12 starts this past season, in addition to the strong strikeout numbers. Although the sample size of 60.2 innings was pretty small and not a ton to go off of, there's enough upside there to forecast big things to come for the 26-year-old.
New Atlanta outfielder Marcell Ozuna gives the Braves another power threat for Glasnow and Co. to deal with. Ozuna already delivered for his third team in four seasons in the second game versus New York, keying a rally to spark a 5-3 extra-innings win.
And the Braves haven't slowed down since. They lit it up in the Big Apple on Sunday, so despite Glasnow's strong form and the stellar bullpen behind him, it's likely going to take some production from the Rays lineup to keep up.
In scoring 14 runs across the opening three games, Tampa Bay has managed only a .188 team batting average. That's far below Atlanta's .255 mark, yet the Rays, showing the savvy that keeps them competitive despite a minimal payroll, have a superior on-base percentage (.322 compared to the Braves' .305).
The Braves went 25-16 against the spread as road underdogs during the prior season, per TeamRankings.com.
But Atlanta isn't great value odds-wise, even as a hedge wager against a bet on the Rays moneyline. This may be a rather rare situation where bettors take the chance on Tampa Bay -1.5, but also favor the Braves' +130 moneyline. The way the odds are stacked, it's an interesting proposition to play both sides that way.
Due to the strength of the starting pitching, the possibility Smith comes on in relief duty Atlanta and the Rays' elite bullpen, bets are bound to trend toward the Under 8.5. That's a pretty standard MLB total, which seems a little high given the teams in play.
Note: Odds current as of 1:25 p.m. ET on Monday, July 27.
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