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MLB Odds, Picks for Friday, April 21 | Astros vs Braves Prediction Today

MLB Odds, Picks for Friday, April 21 | Astros vs Braves Prediction Today article feature image

Pictured: Hunter Brown. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

  • The Astros and Braves go head-to-head in an intriguing Friday night matchup.
  • Both teams send electric young pitchers to the mound, but our expert feels there's clear value on one side.
  • Jim Turvey previews the matchup and shares his best bet for Astros vs. Braves below.

Astros vs. Braves Odds

Friday, April 21
7:20 p.m. ET
Apple TV+
Astros Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-122 / +100
Braves Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
-122 / +100
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The Friday night Apple TV+ game is a great matchup this week. In fact, it’s a 2021 World Series rematch as the Houston Astros head to Atlanta to take on the Braves. This will be a matchup between a pair of young starters who have both gotten off to excellent starts in 2023.

The Braves have gotten off to the much better start this season, but it’s the Astros whose young pitcher has the higher pedigree.

Houston Astros

Hunter Brown debuted in 2022 and impressed with a 0.89 ERA over 20 1/3 regular-season innings before adding another 3 2/3 scoreless innings in the postseason. However, all of that work came out of the bullpen, and when the decision was made for the 24-year-old to move to the rotation this season, it was assumed his ERA would go up a bit.

Well, his ERA has gone all the way up to 1.93 through his first three starts … terrible for a rookie, right?

That ERA hasn’t quite been matched by his advanced numbers, but it’s rare for a 1.93 ERA to have a matching FIP. His 2.78 FIP is still incredibly solid and his xERA (3.22) and xFIP (3.87) help paint a strong picture. Brown was the 34th-ranked prospect in baseball before the season and has lived up to the hype so far.

The lineup he’ll face Friday is a good one and the best he’s faced yet (Detroit, Minnesota and Texas). However, the Braves have also lost a few key pieces since the season began, most notably last year’s National League Rookie of the Year, Michael Harris.

The Astros are also without a few key pieces, but they have been the whole season.

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Atlanta Braves

The Braves still rank higher than the Astros when it comes to overall offensive production (wRC+), but when it comes to facing righties — as both starters are Friday — that gap shrinks to almost nothing. I have these lineups, as presently constructed, nearly equal against right-handed pitchers.

So, this will come down to the starting pitcher. I laid out the case for Brown, but can Bryce Elder match him?

In many ways, yes he can. Elder also debuted briefly last season, but did so as almost entirely a starter. Over 71 2/3 innings, Elder holds an incredibly impressive 2.76 ERA. The peripherals certainly don’t like him as much as that, but his FIP (3.48) and xFIP (4.05) are in the same neighborhood as Brown over a bigger sample.

However, I have Brown as a rather heavy favorite in my modeling because of a few factors. For one, this early in a career, I weigh prospect status and Elder is not in Brown’s tier in that regard. Brown also fares much better in most of the “Savant” stats, such as the amount of contact he allows on the sweet spot, barrels allowed, his ‘x’ stats and wOBA allowed.

The biggest gap between the two resides in their Pitching+ numbers, though. Neither has reached the tipping point for any of these numbers, but they are fast approaching the significant margins for Stuff+ (one of two factors in Pitching+) and the gap is large enough that we can extrapolate a bit. And the edge is huge for Brown. Given that Pitching+ is one of my favorite tools for modeling pitchers, this is notable.

Astros vs. Braves Betting Pick

Despite similar surface level statistics, there’s a lot more to like for Houston’s Friday starter. As a result, I’m going to be targeting Brown by betting the Astros first five innings moneyline. The Astros bullpen is solid, but the Braves ‘pen is truly elite and the defined edge in this game is Brown over Elder, so the first five is the market to play.

I would play the Astros first five innings moneyline to -130.

Pick: Astros 1st 5 Moneyline | Play to -130

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