MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves

Date/Time: August 7, 7:10 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urena (1-5, 4.37) vs. Matt Wisler (5-2, 4.44)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Atlanta -115

Total: 7.5

Thursday’s biggest head scratcher comes from the NL East matchup between the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are a small home favorite against a Marlins team with 65 losses already on the season and Jose Urena on the mound. The Braves will counter with Matt Wisler. Recency bias is playing a factor in this line, as Wisler is coming off of his worst Major League start against the Philadelphia Phillies and that seems to be impacting the betting market.

Another reason for this line is that the Braves are once again without Freddie Freeman. Freeman is back on the disabled list with an oblique injury, the latest setback in what has been an adversity-filled season for a young Braves ballclub. The Marlins have been without their best hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, since June 26 and he experienced soreness while taking some swings during the rehab process and will be out longer than expected. As a result, the Marlins offense has suffered, but the team itself wasn’t doing a whole lot with Stanton in the lineup anyway.

Jose Urena, an international free agent out the Dominican Republic, was signed back in 2008 a couple weeks before his 17th birthday. He pitched in rookie ball in 2010 and spent the start of each successive season at a higher level. He made 11 solid starts at Triple-A and then got the call to the big leagues. Major League life has been a challenge for Urena, who is just 1-5 with a 4.37 ERA, 4.51 FIP, and 4.88 xFIP over eight starts and two relief appearances. His best asset is that he doesn’t issue many walks, but despite a mid-90s fastball and some offspeed stuff that shows promise, Urena doesn’t miss many bats.

Urena made two appearances in relief before transitioning into the starting rotation. So far, he has a 4.06 ERA with a .280/.355/.402 slash against over 44.1 innings of work. The fact that he is so defense-dependent, with just 21 strikeouts against 187 batters faced, makes it tough for him, even though the Marlins rate very well in defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating. He, like most Marlins pitchers, has thrown the ball better at home, with a 3.90 ERA compared to a 5.03 on the road, but small sample sizes and BABIP differences account for most of the gap.

Looking on the surface, there’s not much to be excited about with Matt Wisler. Looking at his minor league track record, there are still reasons to be optimistic, even though some of his skills have not translated to the big league level so far. Wisler is 5-2 with a 4.44 ERA, 4.42 FIP, and 4.72 xFIP. If he continues the stat profile that he has posted so far, sabermetrics will never fully appreciate him because he is a pitch-to-contact fly ball guy. It remains to be seen whether or not his minor league strikeout totals can translate to this level. He struck out over eight batters per nine innings in Single-A and Double-A, but Triple-A hitters made more contact.

Wisler relies mostly on a couple of different fastballs, a slider, and then mixes in an occasional changeup or curveball. He’s shown the good control, for the most part, that he had in the minor leagues, but is developing some platoon splits. Lefties have walked more than they have struck out and have posted a .524 SLG. At Turner Field, over just 19.1 innings, Wisler has a 2.33 ERA. It’s not a big enough sample size to be considered significant, but given his fly ball tendencies, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have success in that park.

MLB Prediction: Atlanta Braves

This looks like a trap line and the Marlins may end up being the right side. The Braves rank 28th and the Marlins 27th in wOBA over the last 30 days, so it’s hard to find an offensive edge for either side in this one. Wisler has more promise and potential than Urena, so the Braves have an edge in that regard, hence the lean to Atlanta for this NL East showdown.