Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Braves vs. Mets: Back Underdog Atlanta to Snag Road Win (July 29)

Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Braves vs. Mets: Back Underdog Atlanta to Snag Road Win (July 29) article feature image
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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Drew Smyly.

  • The Atlanta Braves take on the New York Mets in Thursday’s MLB showdown.
  • Atlanta, which suffered a 2-1 loss to New York on Wednesday, sends Drew Smyly to the mound.
  • Jeff Hicks breaks down the contest below and explains why he likes the Braves to pick up the win.0

Braves vs. Mets Odds

Braves Odds +125
Mets Odds -145
Over/Under 8.5
Time 12:10 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of Wednesday night via DraftKings.

The Atlanta Braves and New York Mets finish their five-game set Thursday with matinee baseball on Getaway Day. The NL East standings have tightened and become a three-team race.

The Mets earned a 2-1 win over the Braves in Wednesday’s thrilling contest, so that avoided the possibility of the visitors taking the last two games of the series. If Atlanta could have pulled that off, it would have put the New York fanbase (and management) on DEFCON 2, especially with the July 30 trade deadline approaching in Major League Baseball.

New York is eight games over .500 in day games, while Atlanta is five games under in them. Luckily, there’s more to break down between these teams entering this showdown.

Atlanta Pitcher Smyly Showing Improvement

Drew Smyly isn’t going to be confused with a team ace at this stage of his career, but the veteran lefty has been a stabilizing arm for an injury-riddled franchise. Smyly has pitched better each month of the season, settling at a 4.30 ERA after starting 2021 well over 8.00 in the category.

His notable blemishes in July are 10 walks and a .403 slugging percentage in 20 innings pitched. However, he has navigated those problems and heads into his final July outing with a 2.66 ERA for the month. Smyly will have to limit the hard hits. He’s above his career average in Barrel and Hit Hit percentages.

Atlanta’s offense can support Smyly, though. The Braves have the second-best Hard Hit percentage against right-handers in road games, but will miss Ronald Acuna Jr.’s bat due to his ACL tear. Players such as Austin Riley have carried the power-hitting load, but the offense missing two of its better hitters (Marcell Ozuna is also unavailable) does keep a lid on some of their upside.

Atlanta has one of the lower GB/FB ratios, which is a good tie-in with the power hitting. That said, living and dying by the long ball is not sustainable.

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Walker Struggling Mightily for New York

It would also be tough to expect the Braves to take Taijuan Walker to task, as he has a 0.86 HR Per 9. Like Smyly, Walker is allowing more Barrels and hard hits than his career averages, but unlike the lefty, Walker has progressively gotten worse.

After a stellar first two months of the season, Walker’s ERA has climbed to 3.43 and his expected numbers have him north of a 4.25 ERA and xFIP. A 9.00 ERA in July has done the most damage. Walker also has .295/.411/.574 slash line against this month.

The Mets’ offense has not performed well against southpaws. Despite being 16th in wRC+ at home against lefties, New York has a -0.7 Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) and is 27th in Hard Hit percentage. The Mets not being able to take advantage of susceptible pitchers, especially in their division, is a good way to lose games and lead over their rivals.

New York is also 10-19 against left-handed pitching.

Braves-Mets Pick

This game will be more entertaining than the pitching matchup indicates. Both teams have the ability to score runs, but only one of them has battled from the doldrums of the division and boasts a double-digit positive run differential. That franchise is also currently available at plus money.

I understand the Mets being favored, but at -145 odds it negates the regression that Walker is experiencing and their mediocrity against left-handed pitching.

Pick: Braves ML (+125 — play to -115)

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