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Thu, 05/01/14 - 7:10 PM Bryan Leonard | MLB Money Line
double-dime bet 951 ATL (-125) Bookmaker.com vs 952 Mia
Results: L, -$250
Analysis:
951 Atlanta at Miami

The Braves and Marlins will wrap up their series on Thursday night with a matchup between Ervin Santana and Henderson Alvarez. Santana seems to be pitching with a chip on his shoulder after remaining unsigned until injuries popped up for the Braves in March, but besides that potential extra focus, a major change in Santana's repertoire has led to some improvements. Santana worked hard over the course of last season and this past offseason to polish a changeup that he had been working on. With a legitimate third weapon to go along with his fastball and above average slider, Santana has struck out over 29 percent of opposing hitters and the pitch has helped to keep hitters off balance.

Armed with the new changeup, Santana has a career high chase rate of over 34 percent by PITCHf/x data, which is a good sign against a Marlins lineup that ranks eighth in the highest percentage of pitches outside the strike zone swung at. Santana has pounded the zone with his other pitches and has used the changeup as an extremely effective weapon. To date, 24 of Santana's 31 strikeouts have come on either sliders or changeups and that's significant against a Marlins lineup that is below average against both of those pitches. With the spectacular Braves defense, a modified repertoire, and a Marlins lineup that will struggle against Santana, the Braves look like a strong play.

On the other side, Henderson Alvarez is enjoying a quality start to the season, but the Braves are in a better position than the Marlins in this game. While the Marlins have seen very little of Santana, the Braves faced Alvarez four times last season. In those four starts, Alvarez allowed 17 runs on 25 hits in 21 innings of work. Because of unearned runs, Alvarez has a 2.73 ERA, but if all of the runs allowed were earned, it would be 4.24, which is in line with his 3.94 SIERA and his career 4.22 SIERA to date. Obviously errors aren't the pitchers fault, but they are inevitable with an average defense and a lot of balls in play. Nearly 80 percent of plate appearances against Alvarez result in a ball in play.

We're believers in changes that Ervin Santana has made and a Braves lineup that struggles against strikeout pitchers should do well against a pitch-to-contact guy like Alvarez.

PLAY: ATLANTA


Pick Made: May 1 2014 5:12AM PST
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