MLB Regular Season

Matchup: Atlanta Braves at Colorado Rockies

Date/Time: July 9, 8:40 p.m. ET

Pitching Matchup: Alex Wood (6-5, 3.34) vs. Kyle Kendrick (3-10, 6.00)

MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook

Moneyline: Atlanta -115

Total: 10

It’s not often that you can call a .500 team a “surprise team”, but it’s very fair to label the Atlanta Braves as a surprise team. The Braves had an offseason fire sale under then-interim GM John Hart that included the trading of Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Jr., and Jason Heyward. On the eve of the regular season, closer Craig Kimbrel was traded to San Diego. Entering their 86th game of the season, the Braves are 42-43 and just 4.5 games out in the National League East. The Colorado Rockies were hoping for a similar fate, but more injuries and starting rotation problems have the Rockies going through the motions with the second-worst record in baseball.

Everything about the Braves suggests that they should be a bad team. Freddie Freeman, the team’s top offensive player has been on the disabled list since June 17. The Braves are one game above .500 since he went down and they are 6-2 in the month of July. Their Pythagorean Win-Loss record is 40-45, so the Braves have definitely overachieved by a couple of games so far this year. The Rockies have not overachieved at all. They started the season 7-2, but it’s been all downhill from there. The Rockies are 19 games under .500 since April 17.

Injuries have taken a toll on both teams. The Braves lost Freeman for at least a month in mid-June and have also had various injuries to starting pitchers. Mike Minor was lost for an extended period of time due to a recurring shoulder problem. Reliever Shae Simmons was lost for the season with Tommy John surgery. Andrew McKirahan wasn’t injured, but he was suspended 80 games for violating the league’s PED policy. As for the Rockies, they have been without Corey Dickerson for most of the last six weeks due to plantar fasciitis. Justin Morneau’s concussion problems are back and his career is in jeopardy. Closer Adam Ottavino was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Braves have rallied together. The Rockies have fallen into obscurity again.

On Thursday, the Braves send Alex Wood to the hill. Wood has been a very reliable starter over the last two seasons for the Braves. This season is no different, though a major drop in strikeouts has to be viewed as a concern. Wood has a 3.34 ERA with a 3.28 FIP and a 3.82 xFIP, though he has managed to pitch out of trouble quite often this season. Wood’s ERA climbed from last season’s 2.78 due in large part to a .340 BABIP against. Given the low strikeout rate, it’s surprising that Wood has been able to strand 76.5 percent of his runners. League average is around 72 percent. Hitters are batting .338/.374/.440 with nobody on base, but just .229/.319/.331 with men on.

The opposite is true for Rockies starter Kyle Kendrick. With the bases empty, Kendrick has allowed 15 of his 23 home runs, but batters have a .268/.312/.513 slash. Those numbers increase to .327/.409/.604 with men on base. As a result, Kendrick has been beaten line a piñata this season. He is just 3-10 with a 6.00 ERA, a 6.01 FIP, and a 4.95 xFIP. Pitching at Coors Field has not been kind to Kendrick and his sinker has lost some movement. For the first time in his career, Kendrick is a fly ball pitcher and the results have been ugly. Batters are teeing off with a .296/.364/.608 slash at Coors Field and Kendrick has a 6.70 ERA.

Pick: Atlanta Braves

This line may be a trap, but it’s way off. There’s no way that Kendrick should be a around even money against any team, let alone one with a lot of left-handed hitters. Lefties are batting .303/.382/.560 against Kendrick with a .402 wOBA. To put that into perspective, Prince Fielder has a .399 wOBA this season. Kendrick is terrible, Wood is not, and this line is priced wrong.