It was not a great return from the All-Star break for the Atlanta Braves, but it was even worse for the Arizona Diamondbacks who were swept by Toronto. Now the Diamondbacks are down in Atlanta for three games with the best team in baseball. Arizona has fallen to third place in the NL West at 52-42. Atlanta is 61-31.
For Game 1 of this series it will be Zach Davies and Bryce Elder on the mound. Davies is 1-5 with a 6.37 ERA in 11 starts and Elder is 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 18 starts. If the Diamondbacks think of themselves as real National League contenders then they’ll need to prove it this week against the Braves. They’re underdogs tonight.
Diamondbacks vs. Braves odds, run line and total
Diamondbacks vs. Braves prediction and pick
Elder has probably been dying to get back out onto the mound. He’s had a very bad taste in his mouth for a very long time. July 9 was the last time he pitched and he allowed seven runs on six hits with four walks in 3.1 innings of work against the Rays. That was really his first disastrous start of the season, but the numbers say it won’t be his last.
Elder is 19th percentile in K%, 39th percentile in whiff rate, and 55th percentile in walk rate. He has a 33rd percentile hard hit rate and an expected ERA of 4.04. His FIP is actually even worse at 4.13. Nothing about his statistical profile says that the success of the first half is sustainable. I’m fading him for the time being.
Davies isn’t exactly a pitcher to trust to beat the Braves as an underdog though. Davies has really only had one dominant type start this year and surprisingly it came against the AL best Rays. So maybe Davies is a big game pitcher, and he actually has a FIP of 4.40, so while Elder is due for another bad start, Davies is due for some good fortune.
The Diamondbacks are 29th in team OPS in July and had a rough offensive series against the Blue Jays. I think their lineup has too much talent with Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte to be only better than the Pirates for a whole month. The turnaround will come for their bats and it might be coming this series.
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