(Freddie Freeman photo courtesy Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Saturday, July 6, SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Ga., 4:10 p.m. EDT.
Max Fried gets a second chance to become the fourth 10-game winner in the National League on Saturday when the Atlanta Braves continue their series versus the Miami Marlins.
Marlins’ Smith set to return after missing nearly a month with hip inflammation
Caleb Smith (3-4, 3.41 ERA) is expected to be activated off the injured list to make this start, his first since June 6 due to hip inflammation.
The left-hander was sent to Double-A Jackson for a pair of rehabilitation starts to regain arm strength, and he allowed six runs in 9 1-3 innings while losing both games for the Jumbo Shrimp.
“He threw a spin today, and he was good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly told the team’s official website Wednesday. “I think we have him scheduled Saturday. Saturday is his day.”
Prior to being put on the injured list, Smith lost three consecutive starts and four straight decisions as part of a stretch in which he posted a 5.10 ERA over six starts. The Marlins offense did him no favors in that dry spell, plating just seven runs.
If Smith had enough innings to qualify, he would rank seventh-lowest in run support in the majors but also only third among Marlins starters.
The southpaw struggled keeping the ball down prior to being sidelined, yielding at least one homer in six straight starts. The 13 gopher balls in 66 innings served has already exceeded his total of 10 in 77 1-3 innings last year.
The three runs he allowed over six innings versus the Braves on April 7 all scored on home runs by Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson, but Smith did not factor in the decision of Atlanta’s 4-3 victory. The southpaw’s other start against Atlanta was a loss last year, and Freeman has gone 4 for 6 in those matchups.
Fried tries to be more efficient in second bid for 10th win
Despite losing just once in his last seven starts, Fried (9-3, 4.04) has seen his earned run average climb more than one run in that span because he has been battling his command in the strike zone.
Opponents have hit the left-hander at a .325 clip in those seven starts, and Fried has not helped himself with 17 walks in those games. The Braves got him off the hook for a loss Sunday versus the Mets, who reached him for three runs and eight hits in five innings, as they rallied before suffering an 8-5 defeat.
Fried has not had those control issues at home, though, as he is 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA in eight starts at SunTrust Park with a 1.74 walks per nine innings ratio. The southpaw had a no-decision at Miami last month, yielding three runs in six innings of Atlanta’s 7-6, 12-inning triumph June 9.
He has yet to record a decision in three career starts versus the Marlins, posting a 5.14 ERA while giving up 11 runs in 14 innings.
Swanson is going to sit out this game with discomfort in his quadriceps but expected to be available for Sunday’s series finale.
The Braves are:
- 7-1 in their last eight games vs. left-handed starters.
- 5-1 in Fried’s last six starts.
- 4-0 in their last four Saturday games.
The Marlins are:
- 11-24 in their last 35 road games vs. left-handed starters.
- 1-5 in Smith’s last six starts.
- 0-4 in Smith’s last four starts vs. above-.500 teams.
UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-121)
The under is 5-3-2 in the 10 meetings between the teams, but Miami’s inability to score early makes the under the pick. The five-inning under has hit in the Marlins’ last five games overall and is 11-1 in their last 12 road games.
The five-inning under has also delivered in four of Atlanta’s last five home games and Fried has held opponents to two or fewer runs in 11 of his 17 starts.
Braves OVER 5 runs (-131)
After failing to solve Jordan Yamamoto and needing a walkoff single to win Friday night, the expectation is the Braves will get back on track offensively and perhaps exploit Smith early as he tries to get back in the groove of pitching in the majors for the first time in a month.
Friday night’s win marked only the second time in the last nine games the Braves failed to score five or more runs and they have not been held under five in back-to-back games since June 23-25.
Braves -1.5 runs (-110)
This win may come tougher than advertised for the Braves given Fried’s recent run of challenging starts, but it also seems likely Smith will be on a pitch count. That could help Atlanta pull away in the middle innings and maintain its recent home dominance of Miami as it enters this game looking for its 19th win in 23 home games versus the Marlins.
OVER 9 runs (-121)
This pick is a tough one because the over has been trending with Fried, while the Marlins are still not the greatest offensive team. Fried’s recent form, however, has led to the over going 6-2-1 in his last nine starts. The over is also 6-1-1 in his last eight games versus sub-.500 teams and 11-5-1 in Atlanta’s last 17 matchups with southpaws.
The Marlins have also provided optimism for the over when facing lefties, going 5-1-1 in their last seven such contests. The over is 3-1-1 in Smith’s last five road starts as well.
Braves -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-136)
While not a ringing endorsement for Fried, the Braves are the pick more because of Miami’s struggling offense. The Marlins were held below two runs in the first five innings for the 13th time in their last 17 games Friday night and have gone 5-7-5 in that stretch. The Braves are also 4-1-5 at the five-inning mark in their 10 games versus the Marlins head-to-head.
Braves -0.5 runs first 3 innings (-105)
This is a pick hedging the Braves will make Smith work early and prove he has command of his pitches in his first start back in a month. Though it is a limited track record in their matchups, the hope is Freeman gets two cracks at Smith in the opening three frames in a bid to help stake the Braves to a lead.