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MLB Betting Odds & Picks for Braves vs. Phillies: Back Atlanta in Early-Season Situational Spot (Saturday, April 3)

MLB Betting Odds & Picks for Braves vs. Phillies: Back Atlanta in Early-Season Situational Spot (Saturday, April 3) article feature image

Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Freddie Freeman #5 of the Atlanta Braves.

  • Philadelphia opened the 2021 MLB season with an extra-innings win over Atlanta in NL East divisional play.
  • On Saturday, the Phillies and Braves resume their series with pitcher Zach Wheeler on the mount against Freddie Freeman & co.
  • Michael Arinze disects the matchup, analyzes the odds, and explains why he's riding with the Braves in Game 2 on Saturday.

Braves vs. Phillies Odds

Braves Odds -110
Phillies Odds -105
Over/Under 8 (-105 / -115)
Time 4:05 p.m. ET
Odds updated Saturday at 2 p.m. ET and via BetMGM.

It is difficult to glean reliable information from just one game in the season, so we’ll have to rely on our historical knowledge of both teams and mix in some situational handicapping to round things out. That’s exactly where we find ourselves for Saturday’s matchup between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Philadelphia won its home opener in extra innings, 3-2.

Atlanta failed to score in the top of the 10th inning when Phillies’ center fielder, Roman Quinn, made a perfect throw to the plate to retire Ozzie Albies, who was trying to score on Marcell Ozuna’s fly ball.

After Braves pitcher Nate Jones intentionally walked Didi Gregorius, Jean Segura hit a ball down the third-base line to score Bryce Harper, who began the inning as the runner on second base per league rules.

Sometimes, teams can go in different directions off an extra-inning loss as the losing team often can’t wait to get back onto the field. Meanwhile, the winning team could be vulnerable to a letdown after feeling relieved that it secured the extra-inning victory.

That’s exactly the situation I envision playing out on Saturday, and I’ll present the reasons to support my premise below.

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Atlanta Braves

There’s been some chatter as to whether or not the Braves overpaid for Charlie Morton. In November, Atlanta signed the 37-year old right-hander to a one-year deal worth $15 million.

The $15 million was actually the club option that Tampa Bay had for the upcoming season. Still, the Rays chose to decline it for financial reasons despite their plans to present a counteroffer that would have been more advantageous for them from a payroll perspective.

Atlanta wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to bring Morton in as a quality veteran to bolster its rotation.

Last year, Morton was limited to nine regular-season starts due to shoulder issues and went 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. However, his 3.45 Field Independent Pitching (FIP) suggested he pitched into some tough luck, and when he got to the postseason, he finally experienced some positive regression.

Morton posted an impressive 2.70 ERA in four starts in the month of October. His performances showed that the wily veteran still has plenty left in the tank. He was still able to maintain his fastball velocity at around 93.8 mph throughout the season.

More recently, Morton has even carried his good form into spring training: He did not surrender a single run in 10 1/3 innings of work.

He’ll be facing a Phillies lineup that he’s had success against, as evidenced by their .281 Weighted On-base Average (wOBA) and .105 ISO in 114 at-bats.

When you factor in Morton’s 3-1 playoff record with a 2.59 FIP, plus his three solid spring training outings, I think Morton is well-positioned to get off to a fast start with the Braves this season.

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Philadelphia Phillies

Zack Wheeler got paid by the Phillies last offseason. In 2019 the former Met signed a five-year deal worth $118 million.

Early signs appear promising: Wheeler went 4-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.17 WHIP during the shortened 60-game season.

Now, he must prove he can sustain that level of production over a full 162-game regular season.

One might wonder if Wheeler is pressing a little bit in his sophomore campaign with the Phillies. He wasn’t exactly sharp during spring training, as evidenced by his 5.03 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.

He’ll now face a Braves lineup that has had some success against him. Atlanta’s hitters have a .382 wOBA and an above-average .224 ISO against him in 143 at-bats.

Wheeler will also need to be very mindful of Freddie Freeman at the plate.

Facing Wheeler could be the perfect elixir for Freeman, who hit .184 in the spring and followed that up with an 0-4 performance on Thursday.

In 35 at-bats against Wheeler, Freeman is hitting .486 with a .571 wOBA, .771 SLG, and .286 ISO.

The sight of Wheeler alone on the mound could be enough to thaw out the four-time All-Star and reigning NL MVP from his slump.

Braves vs. Phillies Pick

The Atlanta Braves must be disappointed with how Thursday’s game ended, and a day off on Friday should have them desperate to get back onto the field to make amends. I imagine they’ll be buoyed to have Morton on the mound after watching him work during spring training.

As for Wheeler, there’s enough data to suggest that Atlanta’s hitters could pose a formidable threat to him at the plate. The Braves’ .224 ISO average against Wheeler could play well at Citizens Bank Park, which can be more of a hitters’ haven.

I examined Atlanta’s recent series performances coming off an extra-inning game in which their opponent scored three or fewer runs: Since June of 2016, the Braves are 5-1 in this situational spot for 4.65 units.

Whereas the Phillies are 3-10 (-7.18 units) in their last 13 games following an extra-inning win in which the opponent scored two or fewer runs.

Those numbers are certainly something I can get behind, so I’ll look to lock in my play on the Braves at BetMGM, which has the best price on the board for Atlanta at -110.

Pick: Braves (-110)

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