Braves vs. Brewers Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Back Thriving Starting Pitching (Sunday, May 16)

Braves vs. Brewers Odds, Prediction, Preview: How to Back Thriving Starting Pitching (Sunday, May 16) article feature image
Credit:

John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Freddy Peralta.

  • The Braves go for a sweep with Huascar Ynoa on the mound against Freddy Peralta and the Brewers.
  • Neither lineup is thriving at the moment, although the Brewers have had one of the worst offenses in baseball of late.
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down how he's backing a pitchers' duel early in Sunday's game below.

Braves vs. Brewers Odds

Braves Odds +102
Brewers Odds -118
Over/Under 7
Time Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Sunday and via DraftKings

This might be my favorite pitching matchup of the 2021 season. Huascar Ynoa and Freddy Peralta are both exceeding expectations while becoming important parts of good rotations.

Unfortunately, the Braves and the Brewers are two teams who are performing below expectations so far. Both are playing about .500 ball in the first month and a half, with both lineups struggling with injuries and production.

The Braves will go for the sweep today while the Brewers’ underwhelming lineup tries to get going.

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Braves Look to Keep Riding Freeman

After getting swept by the Blue Jays, the Braves have bounced back with two straight wins in Milwaukee. Thanks to a pair of solid starting-pitching performances from the back of the rotation and RBIs from six different hitters, the Braves won both games convincingly.

Atlanta’s standout performer is none other than defending National League Most Valuable Player Award-winner Freddie Freeman. Over his past seven games, Freeman is hitting .333 with a 1.104 OPS while hitting three home runs and drawing four walks.

Freeman’s performance is of the utmost importance right now with early NL MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. still battling injuries. At the time of this writing, it’s still questionable whether the superstar will play Sunday.

The season is still fairly young and the Braves are still just two games out of first place in the NL East. The lineup ranks among the top 10 in the majors in OPS over the past seven days, and they have one of their young stars on the mound in this matchup.

Starting pitcher: Huascar Ynoa (RHP)

Ynoa has gone from a potential starter to the best in the Braves’ rotation. He’s made seven starts this season and posted a 2.23 ERA and 0.89 WHIP.

However, Ynoa’s been an absolute monster in his last four appearances. He has a 1.11 ERA and .822 WHIP over his last 24 1/3 innings. The Braves won all four of those starts, and not just because of his performance on the mound:

🚨 A PITCHER JUST HIT A GRAND SLAM

HUASCAR YNOA TOUCH EM ALLpic.twitter.com/m57yvEzrHH

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 5, 2021

Ynoa throws a fastball-slider mix that has been dominating hitters of late. He throws the two pitches more than 85% of the time while allowing a batting average under .200. Plus, the whiff rate on his slider is above 40%.

However, Ynoa isn’t immaculate. His 91% strand rate is unsustainable, and he’s in the bottom 20% of pitchers in both average exit velocity (91 mph) and hard-hit percentage (48.5%). Thus, his xERA is almost two points higher than his actual ERA.

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Milwaukee Needs Bats to Back Peralta

The Brewers’ offense is so frustrating.

After scoring just nine runs in their last five games, the Brewers entered Sunday ranked 28th in wOBA (.290), 29th in OPS (.651) and 30th in wRC+ (81) on the season. Somehow, the 20-20 Brewers have the worst offense in baseball, trailing teams like Detroit (14-25) and Colorado (15-25).

Part of that is due to the absence of Christian Yelich, who hasn’t played since May 3. However, guys like Lorenzo Cain (.186 BA), Travis Shaw (.296 OBP) and even Jackie Bradley Jr. (.237 wOBA) need to carry their weight. Yelich’s return will not fix Milwaukee’s issues if the rest of the lineup can’t get over the Mendoza line.

The Brewers are 1-4 in their last five games and 1-5 in their last six home games.

Luckily, Milwaukee’s starting rotation is one of the best in baseball. The Brewers are among the five best teams in FIP, WHIP and strikeout rate. And they have one of their best on the mound today.

Starting pitcher: Freddy Peralta (RHP)

On a team filled with great starting pitchers, Peralta might be the best of them.

Through seven starts this season, Peralta has posted a 2.77 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. However, many of the advanced stats predict he should be performing even better. Behind an 86.1 mph average exit velocity and a 40% strikeout rate, Peralta’s xERA is a ridiculous 1.94.

Peralta has posted just one bad start among those seven, on May 5 against the Phillies. But he immediately rebounded his next time out with seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Cardinals, against whom he walked just one and struck out eight.

Like Ynoa, Peralta throws a fastball-slider mix that has been very effective. The combined wOBA on the pitches is just around .250, and the xwOBA is even lower.

Braves-Brewers Pick

This game is tough to handicap because both teams’ bullpens have been terrible of late. Atlanta’s relievers are constantly spoiling early leads, but it’s the Brewers’ relief corps that has been worse statistically. Milwaukee’s relievers have posted a 5.36 FIP over the past seven days, good for 28th in the big leagues during that stretch.

Therefore, I’m looking to target a first five innings bet, and I believe the smart play is to bet on a pitcher’s duel and take the under 3.5 runs.

The obvious reason to play the first five under would be the two pitchers. Peralta has given up two runs or fewer in five of his seven starts while Ynoa has been similarly dominant. Additionally, both teams are missing key offensive stars.

However, there’s one big statistic that is pointing me in this direction: Both Milwaukee and Atlanta don’t hit the slider well. Atlanta’s -6.9 weighted slider runs created ranks 20th in MLB while Milwaukee’s -25.0 ranks dead last. Given there are two slider-heavy pitchers on the mound today, I’m expecting a lot of swings-and-misses.

I played the first five under 3.5 runs at -105 on DraftKings and would be willing to play it to -110. However, if the number moves to under 3 runs, I’d advise staying away.

Pick: First 5 u3.5 (-105 | Play to -110)

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