Two contenders in the National League start the month of August looking to capture a series victory.
Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds
Atlanta continues to lead the NL East division, but its lead has been cut due to losing five of eight games on its current road trip. The Braves did make a couple moves at the trade deadline, picking up outfielder Rick Ankiel and relief pitcher Kyle Farnsworth from Kansas City. “Ankiel’s a tremendous outfielder, a great athlete,” Chipper Jones said. “Hopefully he helps solidify things out there.” The club is still a tremendous 18-9 against the NL Central, which is their best winning percentage against any division this season. Atlanta is also 20-15 in day games this season (+380) and the total is 19-16 O/U in those contests. The team is averaging 4.0 runs per game under the sun and hitting for a combined .256 average, while opponents are scoring 3.8 and batting .236. Atlanta has gone 26-31 in August the last three years (-820).
Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson is 8-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 21 starts this season, but the club has dropped his last three outings. In those appearances, he has allowed nine runs (six earned) and 18 hits in 17.1 innings. The right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.59 ERA in 10 road starts this season, issuing 20 walks and striking out 62 batters in 57.2 frames. He will be making just his sixth daytime start, going 2-1 with a 6.00 ERA compared to an even 6-6 mark and 3.48 ERA at night. In two lifetime starts against the Reds, he is 1-0 with a 9.39 ERA, allowing them to hit for a combined .333 average. He lasted a season-low 1.2 innings on May 20 at home versus Cincinnati, giving up eight runs and eight hits in a 10-9 Braves win.
Cincinnati picked up a 5-2 home victory over the Braves on Saturday afternoon, giving the team a 14-12 July record. “That’s what we want every month. It was a tough July,” manager Dusty Baker said. In the 16 seasons since the National League was divided into three divisions, 14 times the team leading the Central on August 1 has won the division. The Reds will likely start the month down a half-game in the divisional race. Cincinnati is a fantastic 42-26 against right-handed starters this season (+1,140) and the total is 32-32 O/U in those games. Despite a 5-7 mark as a home underdog of +100 to +125 in 2010, the team is still a profitable 29-27 in this spot the last three seasons (+510).
Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez is an even 1-1 with a 8.25 ERA in three starts this season, but the club has won two out of three games with him on the hill. The right-hander lasted 3.2 innings in his last start, giving up four runs and six hits, as Cincinnati picked up a 12-4 road win over Milwaukee. He is 1-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two home starts, striking out 13 batters and walking six over 8.1 frames. In three career outings versus the Braves, Volquez is a winless 0-2 with a 3.18 ERA. The Reds offense has provided him with 21 runs of support in his outings this season (7.0 rpg).
Bettors will find the Braves being 5-1 in Hanson’s last six chances as a road favorite, with the over cashing in five of those games. Professional bettors will definitely examine Volquez’s first three outings this year, as Cincinnati is 4-0 in his last four starts as a home underdog.