NL East Rivalry: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies MLB Handicapping

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies are set to begin an important NL East series on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

The Atlanta Braves are a dangerous underdog Friday night

Atlanta comes into this series off a four-game home sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers, including a 2-1 victory at Turner Field Thursday night.  “A four-game sweep in baseball is about the rarest thing out there.  It’s really hard to do,” said first baseman Eric Hinske.  “It’s a great series for us.  “We’ve been playing about .500 ball all year.”  The win was the fifth straight for Atlanta, which completed its homestand with a 5-2 record.  The Braves pitching staff comes in red hot and held Milwaukee sluggers Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder to a combined 3-for-30 in the four games.  Atlanta’s bullpen should be well-rested due to the starters throwing 28.2 innings out of 36 in the series against the Brewers.  The team is 6-6 versus division opponents this year and 86-71 over the last three campaigns.

Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe is 2-3 with a 3.72 ERA in seven starts this season, but the team has been unable to win back-to-back games with him on the mound due to run support.  Atlanta has managed to plate just 16 runs his seven starts, which comes out to a team-low 1.4 runs per game.  The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA in four road starts, but has allowed just a single home run in 20.2 frames.  Lowe will be making his 20th career appearance (16th start) versus the Phillies, bringing in a 7-5 record and 3.17 ERA, including an April 10 home loss against them.  In that start, he surrendered just two runs and seven hits over seven innings of work, but failed to receive any support from the offense.

Philadelphia is coming off a home sweep of its own by finishing off Washington in a three-game series with a 7-3 win Thursday.  The Phillies come in tied with the Indians for the best record in baseball and should play with plenty of confidence knowing they’ve won seven of nine against the Braves.  With all the praise it was given in the offseason, Philadelphia’s starting staff is living up to the billing, as it currently leads the majors in wins (16) and quality starts (23) this season.  The Phillies’ 3.13 ERA from their starters is the third-lowest in baseball.  The club is 12-5 versus divisional foes this season.

Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee is an even 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in six starts this season and has received just a single run of support over his last two outings.  The left-hander will look to bounce back from a disappointing effort against the Braves on April 8, giving up six runs on 10 hits, while throwing just 73 pitches in 3.1 innings of work.  In his time with Philadelphia, Lee is 1-2 with a 6.98 ERA versus tonight’s opponent, his highest ERA against any team in that span.

Bettors will likely back the Braves due to their 7-1 mark in Lowe’s starts versus the National League East, while the Phillies are just 11-9 in night games.

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