Atlanta Braves vs Boston Red Sox preview
Here we have an interleague matchup between the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox. This will be the first game a three game series between these teams. So far this season the Braves are 37-32 overall, but are only 3-7 in their last ten games. They will be on the road tonight, where they are 22-15 so far this season and are 6-1 in their last seven road games. As for the Boston Red Sox, they are entering this game with a record of 36-33, however are on a five game winning streak and have won seven of their last ten games. Surprisingly, the Red Sox have struggled at home this season and are only 17-19 this season. A major par to the Red Sox’s success during this stretch of games has been because of the production of David Ortiz. Since their 1-7 losing skid, Ortiz is batting .375 and has four home runs and 11 RBIs. In tonight’s pitching matchup, we have a battle between Jair Jurrjens and Jon Lester. After the Braves lost Brandon Beachy to the DL, they had to recall Jurrjens back to the Big Leagues. Jurrjens was sent down towards the end of April, after he started out allowing 17 runs through 16.1 innings. Although Jurrjens has been promoted back to the Braves, he still did not pitch too well in Triple-A. This was more than a desperation move, rather than a performance promotion. With that being said, it will be interesting to see how Jurrjens pitches in his first start since the demotion. Now over the last three season Jurrjens has two starts against the Red Sox. In those two starts combined, he is 0-1 and allowed 9 runs in 14.1 innings. Unfortunately for Jurrjens, he will not catch a break on his first start because he will be up against the Boston Red Sox who have the 2nd best offense in baseball. As for Jon Lester, he is entering this game with a record of 4-4 and an ERA of 4.53. For Lester it has been a tough start to the season, but the good news is it looks like things may be straightening out. After have an ERA over 4.00 in April and May, Lester is now 1-0 with an ERA of 3.66 through his last three starts. In each of his last three starts, he has pitched 6 or more innings and has allowed three or fewer earned runs. The major difference in his last three starts have been his walks. In his last three starts, he has walked only four batters. When you look at his bad outings, you can see a big spike in the amount of walks he has allowed. Now interestingly enough, history shows that Lester is a slow starter. In the past three seasons, he has an ERA over 4.00 in both April and May, however in June, July, and August he has an ERA under 3.00 (ERA of 2.26 in June). Lester only has one career start against the Braves. The start came back in 2006 when he pitched 6 innings and allowed just one run in a 4-1 win for the Red Sox. Lester will be up against the Braves offense that is ranked 8th in baseball in runs scored. Now one thing that you should take note of, is the fact that for the month of June, the Braves are ranked 28th in runs scored, while the Red Sox are tied for 6th. To say the least, the Braves have really been struggling offensively which has been part of their recent struggles. As for the odds surrounding this matchup tonight, after the Red Sox opened up as favorites at -159, the line has jumped significantly and now favors them at -190 over the Braves at +170.
Bottomline: Although Lester’s season numbers do not show it, he has been improving over his last three starts. As I spoke about above, over his last three starts he has an ERA of 3.66 which is very solid and what most people were expecting from him, at the very least. To go along with that, the Red Sox as a team have been playing great baseball and are currently on a five game winning streak. I hate picking against a team that is as hot as them. When you look on the other side, the Red Sox are up against a struggling Braves team, that will have an unproven pitcher (in regards to this season) on the mound. This is Jurrgens’ first start since his demotion and you do not know how that will affect him. It may have a positive impact, a negative impact, or no impact what so ever.
My Pick: Boston Red Sox
Confidence: 4/5 LOCK OF THE DAY
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