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Sportsmemo's MLB Betting Preview: Atlanta Braves

03.11.2016     07:03 AM     Rob Veno     Printer Friendly

Submitted by Rob Veno


Atlanta Braves 
2015 W-L:
2015 O/U: 81-72-9 
2015 Profits:  -16.4 units 
2016 O/U Wins (Westgate):  67.5 
2016 NL East Odds (Westgate):  80/1 
Projected Starting Rotation:  Julio Teheran, Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos,  Bud Norris,  Michael Foltynewicz 
Key Departures:  Shelby Miller, Andrelton Simmons, Cameron Maybin, Christian Bethancourt 
Key Additions:  Kelly Johnson, Alexi Ogando, Bud Norris, Emilo Bonifacio, Erick Aybar

Handicapper’s Take: "Year one of the Braves’ rebuilding process produced a 67-95 record which in betting terms translated into -16.4 units -- the seventh worst team in the league to back. Among Atlanta’s shortcomings was an offense that finished last in MLB in OPS, SLG, HRs, RBI and runs scored. The bullpen had the second worst ERA at 4.69 and only converted 62.8% of save opportunities. Starting pitching was not exempt either as that group ranked 26th in BAA (.270) and K-to-BB ratio (2.16) while issuing the second highest number of walks (333) in MLB. All of that went wrong and somehow they won 67 games which is half a win shy of the 67.5 that is currently posted on their 2016 over/under win total.

Trying to find enough improvement in this season’s version of Atlanta to squeeze out one more win and get to a ticket cashing 68 isn’t easy. Positives start with a lineup that’s been fortified at the top by the offseason acquisitions of ex-Diamondbacks leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte and former Angels SS Erick Aybar. This duo gives Atlanta what’s arguably the best table setters in the division. Inciarte needs to work on drawing more walks but his low strikeout rate and low fly ball rate upgrade the top spot in Atlanta’s order. His difficulties versus lefties could be masked inside the NL East since the other four teams have three lefty starters in their rotations combined. Switch hitting Aybar should be a solid no. 2 hitter due to his ability to make contact. That duo figures to make the Braves much better at manufacturing runs especially since they are in front of run producers Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman. If 3B Adonis Garcia (projected no. 5 hitter) and LF Hector Olivera (projected no. 7 hitter) live up to their hitting potential, Atlanta will have much better power and run production numbers.

Defensively Inciarte is an outstanding outfielder by all measures but the Braves lose a lot with Ayber replacing elite fielding Andrelton Simmons. Overall the Braves are a mediocre defensive team outside of Inciarte, Markakis and Freeman.

The starting staff is going to struggle with no solidified top-of-the-rotation type of arms. Their best and most consistent arm last season, Shelby Miller, was traded during the offseason. Matt Wisler is a hard throwing young arm who may develop but this staff had Miller and Alex Wood last season and in place of them they now have journeyman Bud Norris and retread Kyle Kendrick. The staff figures to be a source of season long problems and it will put relentless pressure on the bullpen which also has question marks. Closer Jason Grilli (Achilles), hard throwing RH Craig Withrow (Tommy John) and RH Alexi Ogando will need to perform for this team to survive in the late innings. Young RH Arodys Vizcaino is the best piece in this relief corps right now. Expectations are rightfully low but I’ll be looking to play this team over the total on a game-by-game basis.”

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