Braves vs Dodgers Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Thursday, August 31
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Braves vs. Dodgers Odds
The Atlanta Braves continue to roll, winning their seventh game in eight tries on Thursday. Now comes the hard part — a four-game set with the menacing Los Angeles Dodgers.
Can Spencer Strider keep the train moving, or will Lance Lynn stand in Atlanta's way?
Let's break it all down in our Braves vs. Dodgers preview and prediction.
It appears, for the moment, that Strider has returned to his elite form. The right-hander has posted a season-low .166 xBA in August, the third-best month of his career. And while it's come at the expense of some strikeouts, he's still punching out 31.4% of batters.
Perhaps this is a balance Strider will eventually learn to strike, and the proof could be in the 2.37 ERA he's posted in 30 1/3 innings this month.
It's also worth noting that his ground-ball rate has once again been at nearly 40%, a sign that he's been getting much better at pitching to contact and eliminating some of the home run concerns.
Strider's made one start against the Dodgers this season, and it may be worth looking into a bit. While he did strike out 11 batters, he allowed a homer, three walks and five hits for a total of four runs, though two were unearned.
While the flamethrower has found a way to be effective this month, he's also walked 11 batters in 30 1/3 innings, continuing along with a troubling trend of free passes. His walk rate is still below league average, but it's nearly right at it at 7.6%.
In terms of offensive production, I see nothing wrong with how the Braves have hit over the last two weeks. While they're just ninth in wRC+, they're still slashing .296/.347/.499, putting up a great 18.7% strikeout rate, though Atlanta's 7% walk rate is disappointing.
Lynn's Dodgers tenure is off to an interesting start. On the surface, things have been just fine — he's pitched to a 2.03 ERA in five starts, earning the win in four of them. He's walked just six batters, representing his best month of the season to date.
While his results have been positive for L.A., there are still some issues beneath the surface. Lynn allowed 10 hits in his last start, something that may have been a long time coming. The right-hander's expected batting average this month is up to .247, from .233 a month ago. For the season, his xBA now stands at .249, putting him in the bottom 39% of the league.
Worst of all, his whiff rate has continued to fall and that's led to a 21% strikeout rate this month. We've always known Lynn to be unreliable when trying to pitch to contact, but the strikeouts have always come in bunches.
The good news here is the Dodgers' offense is hotter than the Braves' over the last two weeks. They've hit .292 with a strong .206 ISO, putting them fifth in wRC+ during that span.
Los Angeles isn't walking as much as it's used to at 9%, though its 21.1% strikeout rate is right in line with what we've seen all season.
Braves vs. Dodgers
Betting Pick & Prediction
I like the way Strider is pitching a heck of a lot more than what we've seen from Lynn. While he's been fine on the surface, there are some serious underlying issues with his drop in strikeouts and increase in balls with a high hit probability. The Braves aren't a team which strikes out a ton and that should really hamper Lynn's chances here.
On the other side of the coin, I think Strider has made some improvements over the last couple of months and should no longer fear a team like the Dodgers, who do their best to avoid striking out. With a better batted ball profile, I trust Strider to navigate a tough lineup.
I'll take the Braves up to -140.
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