Free Picks: Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves

Jordan Horrobin
Jordan Horrobin
MLB Free Picks – Best Bets of the Week
Braves vs Phillies Week 11
Philadelphia Phillies vs Atlanta Braves, MLB, Citizens Bank Park

The Philadelphia Phillies (28-30) will face the Atlanta Braves (28-29) to begin a three-game set on Tuesday, which marks the first series in Philadelphia between these teams since opening week. The Phillies swept that series, and they’ve taken five of nine games overall against the Braves so far this season. Five of the nine matchups between these teams have been decided by a single run, which helps explain how tightly they’ve played each other in 2021.

Can Nola push Phillies over the edge in razor-thin matchup?

The Phillies and Braves are separated by a half-game in the overall standings. They’re separated by one game in their season matchup and three runs in their season matchup’s run differential. In other words, they aren’t separated by much.

And yet, they’re separated by quite a bit on the odds for Tuesday’s MLB picks: The Phillies are -166 money line favorites (10Bet), while the Braves lag as +135 money line underdogs (10Bet). So where does that kind of difference come from?

It comes from the starting pitcher matchup: Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola (4-4, 3.84 ERA) versus Atlanta’s Drew Smyly (2-3, 5.98 ERA). Nola is essentially a league average pitcher this year (102 ERA+), but that’s miles ahead of Smyly (73 ERA+). Unfortunately, it’s not that simple for Nola.

He’s 0-1 in two starts against the Braves this year, and just 1-3 with a 5.81 ERA in his past five starts against them (dating back to 2019). That’s a bit discouraging.

Perhaps it’s less discouraging when you realize Smyly was shelled for five runs in five innings against the Phillies this year, his lone career start against them. He’s also 0-1 with a 7.47 ERA in his past three starts.

Looking at the pitching stats, it checks out that Nola and the Phillies would be favored. But Nola has been far from stellar against Atlanta, and the Braves’ offense has demonstrated an ability to carry its team farther than the Phillies’ offense can. Atlanta leads the majors in home runs per game (1.54), and they’re sixth in team OPS (.747). Philadelphia ranks 20th and 17th in those categories, respectively.

Philadelphia has one player with double-digit home runs (J.T. Realmuto, 12), while Atlanta has four (Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley with 10, Freddie Freeman with 13 and Ronald Acuna Jr. with 17). Remember, these are two teams that haven’t been separated by much so far this season. One swing could make the difference in a game between them, and Atlanta simply has far more players who could produce that game-changing swing.

Oh, and the Braves just took two of three from the reigning champion Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s gotta count for something, right?

We think so. With their combination of offensive pop and Aaron Nola’s not-so-spotless resume, we’ll vouch for the underdog Braves with this BetPicks prediction. The 8.5 run total seems far too low, too, so go ahead and smash the over on that (-115 at 10Bet).

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  • Atlanta is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
  • The OVER has cashed in five of the Braves’ past nine games
  • Philadelphia is 5-5 on the money line in its past 10
  • The OVER has cashed in five of the Phillies’ past seven games

Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University).