The Atlanta Braves are trying to hold off the Miami Marlins to win another NL East title as they meet on Wednesday. Most likely the Braves will win the division and Miami should get a Wild-Card spot. The Marlins start one of the most promising young pitchers in the majors for this one.
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Why Bet on Miami? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
The Marlins have purchased Marlins purchased the contract of pitcher Brett Eibner. Eibner was pushed off the Marlins’ 40-man roster at the end of August, but he’ll get another look over the final week of the 2020 regular season. The 31-year-old former outfielder has allowed three runs on two hits and four walks over 1 1/3 innings (two appearances) this season at the major league level.
Of the 11 Marlins players with at least 75 at-bats this season, Miguel Rojas leads the club in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS while ranking second in doubles. Rojas’ isolated power, a statistic that measures the rate of extra bases per at-bat, is .223. Only Garrett Cooper (.232) has a higher mark on the team. Rojas is in the midst of another breakout season and has only picked up his production since missing 15 games after being one of 18 Marlins players to test positive for COVID-19 three games into the season.
Outfielder Lewis Brinson also is having a nice season. In 654 plate appearances between 2018 and 2019, he was a .189/.238/.294 hitter with more strikeouts (194) than games played (184). Brinson started this season slow but has been hitting well since August 25 with a 364/.375/.618 slash line with a .993 OPS.
It’s good-looking young pitcher Sixto Sanchez (3-2) on the mound. Sanchez had his first poor start in the big leagues in last Friday’s loss to the Nationals, allowing five runs on eight hits over four innings. The rookie right-hander walked two and struck out two. Nationals scratched out a pair of runs against him in the second inning, then added three more in the fourth on run-scoring singles by Andrew Stevenson and Victor Robles. Sanchez still owns an impressive 2.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 31/7 K/BB ratio through 36 innings on the year.
On Sept. 8, he pitched in Atlanta and allowed three hits in six innings and combined with four relievers on a shutout. Sanchez walked Dansby Swanson on four pitches in the first, but didn’t allow any additional free passes in the game.
According to Statcast, of all MLB starters who have thrown at least 100 pitches, Sanchez is getting swings on either the first or second pitch 44.7 percent of the time, which is second to Michael Pineda’s 45.3 percent. He has an expected ERA of 2.86, which takes into account the quality of contact he allows. His xERA is in the top nine percent.
Why Bet on Atlanta? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis
Entering this series, the Braves had gone 23-8 (.742) against Miami here in Atlanta since Truist Park opened in 2017. The Marlins won their first ever series here during that three-game set earlier this month. Prior to that, the Braves had never dropped consecutive games to Miami at Truist Park.
The Braves are averaging 6.57 runs at home this year, the most in the major leagues. The Braves also lead the majors in batting average at home and on-base percentage at home, while ranking second to the Yankees in slugging percentage and OPS.
Freddie Freeman is having an MVP-caliber season. If he wins the award, he would become just the fourth Braves player to be named the league MVP since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966 and the first in 21 years. Dale Murphy won back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, and Terry Pendleton and Chipper Jones won the award in 1991 and 1999, respectively. Freeman has finished in the top eight of the National League MVP voting four times in his decade in the league – fifth in 2013, sixth in 2016, fourth in 2018 and eighth last year.
Jones weighed in on Freeman’s candidacy over the weekend, tweeting a bunch of statistics that showed the Braves first baseman comparing favorably to other contenders. “For those of you who are on the fence or undecided as to who you would vote for,” Jones wrote, “here are some numbers through 50 games, to help u out!”
Meanwhile, shortstop Dansby Swanson is really in a slump and has been moved to ninth in the lineup. His average exit velocity during the slump (90.3 mph) has been higher than was when he was still getting positive results (87.9 mph). His BABIP prior to the slump? .402. His BABIP during it? .054. During the slump, his strikeout rate over that span (27.9%) is only marginally higher than it had been when the slump started (26%)
Manager Brian Snitker hasn’t announced a starter for this game so it could be a bullpen day. It would normally be Max Fried’s turn in the rotation as he last pitched Friday but the Braves instead plan to use him Thursday.
Expert PredictionBraves 5, Marlins 3
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