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MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Braves vs. Pirates Betting Preview (July 7)

MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Braves vs. Pirates Betting Preview (July 7) article feature image

Todd Kirkland/Getty Images. Pictured: Drew Smyly.

  • The Braves are big road favorites over the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon (12:35 p.m. ET, MLBTV).
  • Wil Crowe starts opposite Drew Smyly in the most underwhelming starting-pitching matchup of the day in MLB. Smyly has been getting good results of late but appears set to regress, which could come even against a porous Bucs lineup.
  • DJ James breaks down the matchup and delivers his best bet below.

Braves vs. Pirates Odds

Braves Odds-160
Pirates Odds+135
Time12:35 p.m. ET
Odds as of Tuesday and via PointsBet

Potentially the worst pitching matchup of the day takes place in Pittsburgh between the Pirates and the Atlanta Braves.

Drew Smyly will toe the rubber opposite Wil Crowe, as they did on May 20. In that one, the two combined to allow seven runs. Smyly, however, has not given up more than three runs in a start since May 26.

Does the veteran southpaw have advantage between the two? And if so, does that mean there’s betting value on that side? Let’s dig in.

Smyly’s Luck to Run Out Soon?

Smyly’s stats are pretty skewed due to an awful April, but his xERA remains at 4.84, mainly attributed to his 42.3% allowed hard-hit percentage. He is also only striking out only 20.6% of batters, so the Pirates will put the ball in play.

The Braves’ lineup has been underwhelming this season and has not improved in the past month. However, they do have six contributors to the lineup who post a 100 wRC+ or better against righties, like Crowe. They also hold a top-10 walk percentage in the league, which should come into the equation against a starter who ranks in the 25th percentile in that category.

If the Braves can be patient in this matchup, they should set themselves up for success, after only posting one run in Tuesday’s matchup with the Braves.

Now, the crux of the Braves remains the bullpen. They have a 4.47 xFIP, and Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Chris Martin and Tyler Matzek all threw on Tuesday. This indicates that their already weak bullpen will be shorthanded for Wednesday’s day game matchup.

Bucs’ Bats Could Find Rhythm vs. Smyly

On the other hand, for such a weak team, Pittsburgh has a reasonable bullpen. They have a combined 4.01 ERA, but Richard Rodríguez and Chris Stratton both pitched on Tuesday, so like the Braves, Wednesday will most likely feature a few bullpen pieces who do not typically work as the anchors for either team. That said, the Pirates shockingly have the edge between these two, when it comes to relievers. Kyle Keller and Clay Holmes could be the first out of the bullpen after Crowe.

Since June 1, the Pirates have not hit too poorly. Losing Philip Evans hurts this team, but they still have five other batters over the 100 wRC+ mark. Smyly, in comparison to Crowe, does not walk too many hitters, so the Pirates should be prepared to swing the bats.

Pittsburgh only walks 8.4% of the time, so this does not seem to be an issue, but all the Bucs need to do is lay off of Smyly’s curve. He does rank in the 71st percentile in chase rate, so this could be an issue if Pirates hitters are not disciplined.

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Braves-Pirates Pick

That said, the main angle in this game is Crowe against Smyly.

Crowe is still a rookie, and he will not throw strikes to an incredibly patient team, while Smyly has overachieved the last month. His peripherals indicate regression is forthcoming and even if it’s just the Pirates, they have had plenty of weapons to be encouraging since the beginning of June.

Both bullpens are also taxed after a tight game on Tuesday. A mid-day game with shorthanded pitching staffs and poor starters leans to the over.

It currently rests at 9 (-115) on PointsBet, and I would take this to 9.5 (-120). I’m confident in both offenses taking advantage of the poor pitching on the hill, and this could pay off earlier than expected. If both starters exit early, do not be surprised to see the weaker bullpen arms give up a few runs quickly.

Pick: Over 9 (-115)

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