For my first game preview, a couple of teams near and dear to me: my hometown Dbacks and my collegetown Braves. At this point in the season, both have been pretty surprising—Atlanta sits two games below .500 and four games behind the NL East-leading Phillies, while the Diamondbacks have sprung from the ashes of their hellish offseason to a respectable record of 22-16. Both teams are coming off tough series, Dbacks losing two of three to the Rays and the Braves getting swept by the dangerous Dodgers. That being said, both teams come into this game needing a win against a competitive NL opponent. Which team takes it?
Moneyline – ATL: +120, ARI: -130
Runline – ATL +1.5 (-165), ARI -1.5 (+155)
O/U – 8.5 (Over -120, Under +110)
First pitch – 9:40 ET—Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
Key cog for the Dbacks tonight: Zack Greinke. Sitting at 5-1 with a solid 3.42 ERA, Greinke has gotten off to a great start in 2019. However, the shock of the season has come in the form of Arizona’s offense. After losing arguably their two best hitters (Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock) in the offseason, the Dbacks have actually improved at the plate, climbing from a .235/.310/.397 slash line in 2018 to .259/.325/.457 this year. Is it a fluke? Maybe, but the Arizona bats are hot right now and with their ace on the mound, they’ll be tough to beat.
Seems like the Braves are trying to figure out what kind of team they’re going to be. After a sneak attack to steal the NL East last year, they have been decidedly mediocre so far. Their Achilles heel has been the bullpen, it’s limping along with an ERA of 4.42. It’s hard enough to win in the majors—the inability to close out games makes it that much harder. Their starter, Julio Teheran (2-4, 4.63 ERA) has also struggled this year. Looks to be a tough game from the defensive side for the Braves.
Analysis & Prediction
After a back-and-forth 10-inning game last night, the Dbacks and Braves both come into tonight’s game looking for an edge. I give this one to Arizona for a couple of reasons. First, I see the starting pitching matchup as advantage AZ: Greinke vs. Teheran. Greinke is historically better and seems to be having the better first month-plus of 2019. Second, the combination of Arizona’s late-game success and the Braves’ bullpen’s struggles leans this one even more towards the Dbacks. With two considerable offenses and some late-inning bullpen troubles from both teams, and after a low-scoring game yesterday, I’ll take the Dbacks and the over.