The Atlanta Braves (70-51) play host to the visiting San Francisco Giants (66-55) in a meeting between two second place teams in the NL East and West respectively. This 4-game series figures to be one of the better match-ups during the week pitching-wise, with a number of quality starters set to take the mound against one another in the next few days. There’s much at stake as Atlanta seeks wins to secure a Wild Card berth (not likely to catch Philadelphia for the NL East Pennant), currently 4 games ahead of the Giants, and San Francisco simultaneously tries to stay on the heels of the red-hot Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West while also looking to gain ground on the Braves to secure a back-up playoff berth with a Wild Card bid.
Tonight’s pitching match-up features veteran Tim Hudson (12-7, 3.18 ERA) against 22 year-old Madison Bumgarner (7-11, 3.53 ERA), with both pitchers coming off solid outings, and pitching well into the month of August.
Tim Hudson has won his last three outings, with a 1.69 ERA over that span, and has six quality starts in his last six games pitched (7 innings or more, 3 runs or less per outing), not to mention posting a 7-1 record in his last 8 decisions. Against the Giants this season, he’s 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA on a 8 2/3 inning performance giving up just 2 runs in a 5-2 victory on April 23rd.
Madison Bumgarner comes into this match-up looking for a bit of redemption. He pitched against the Braves on April 22nd during their last series together, and was only able to go 2 2/3 innings while giving up all 4 runs in a 4-1 defeat. However, Bumgarner has been stellar so far this August, posting a 1.20 ERA on 15 innings of work while going 1-1 in two starts. He also comes off his best outing of the year, posting 7 shutout innings with 10 strike outs in a 6-0 win against Pittsburgh.
Betting lines for Atlanta vs. San Francisco:
Betonline.com Sportsbook offers -150 odds on Atlanta as the favorite tonight. San Francisco comes in as a +140 underdog, while the over/under is set at 6.5 runs (over -105 odds, under -115). San Francisco gets 1.5 runs at -175, while Atlanta gives up 1.5 runs at +155.
Our Pick to Win
San Francisco has gone 5-11 over their last 16 games, but looks to win their third straight game tonight at Turner Field. Atlanta comes off two consecutive losses, but is still 7-3 in their last 10 games. With San Francisco struggling to find scoring and relying heavily on starting pitching to get them deep into games, it’s tough to see the Giants winning tonight against one of the hottest veteran pitchers in the NL, and therefore we have to give the nod to Atlanta and Tim Hudson to pick up the victory tonight.
Players to Watch – Atlanta:
Brian McCann, C – McCann made his way back into the Atlanta lineup last night after suffering an oblique strain that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. Going 0-4 last night in his return, he’ll look to come back into form tonight, providing a boost of power that should help the Braves prevail tonight.
Jason Heyward, LF – While he’s been battling for playing time with Jose Costanza, he should get the start tonight as Heyward has had great success this year against San Francisco. He’s 2 for 2 against Bumgarner, and 7 for 12 against the Giants this year, and will need to hit well during this series in order to keep his playing time up after starting August 3 for 18.
Players to Watch – San Francisco:
Pablo Sandoval, 3B – The Giants are struggling to find anyone to fill a power position in their line-up, especially with Carlos Beltran looking likely to head to the DL. He’s hitting .340 in August (16-47) with 3 homers and 6 RBIs, and needs to step up against the Braves’ staff this week (3 for 11 this year, no home runs or RBIs) if the Giants are to prevail.
Aubrey Huff, 1B – The veteran Huff is hitting .333 in August, but is just 1 for 13 against Atlanta this year. As one of only two Giants’ players hitting over .300 in the last month, he’ll need to show some veteran leadership at the plate, and hopefully knock in some runs provided guys like Cody Ross, Pablo Sandoval and Jeff Keppinger can get on base ahead of him.