Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins, NL Divisional Series: Tips, Odds & Predictions

Braves vs Marlins NL Divisional Series
Atlanta Braves vs Miami Marlins, MLB, NL Divisional Series

The NL East champion Atlanta Braves face the team they defeated by four games for the divisional crown in the Miami Marlins in the NL Divisional Series. Atlanta swept Cincinnati in a hard-fought series in the Wild Card round while the Marlins stayed unbeaten in playoff series with a sweep of the Cubs. Atlanta won the season series between these two by a narrow 6-4 margin after winning three of four in the final week of the regular season.

Tips & Predictions

For as good as Atlanta has been in the regular season in recent years, it has always struggled in the NL Divisional Round it seems. The Braves haven’t advanced to the NLCS since 2001, a 19-year stretch that includes four losses in decisive Games 5 among eight NLDS appearances and a loss in the NL Wild Card Game in 2012. But after shutting out the Reds twice in the Wild Card round should give Atlanta some confidence heading into this matchup with the pesky Marlins. Atlanta’s pitching this season has been sensational, especially Max Fried and Ian Anderson, who both had sub-2.30 ERAs this season, though neither threw enough innings to qualify for the league leaderboards. In support of strong starting pitching, the Braves ranked second in batting average and second in runs scored per game. Atlanta had four players hit at least 10 homers and seven batter drove in at least 27 runs this season, giving them the offensive firepower to be dangerous in the postseason.

What perhaps sets the Marlins apart from the rest of the field is how similar everyone in their lineup seemed to be this season. Most of the hit between .250 and .270 this year, they all seemed to be between 13 and 20 RBIs and it was just a consistent effort in unique circumstances to even qualify for the postseason. Miami is quite young on the mound with their oldest starter just 25 years old, which is both a blessing and a curse in this unique season. The Marlins pitchers excelled against a dangerous Cubs lineup in the Wild Card round, which should give them confidence against the bats the Braves bring to the plate in this series. Atlanta had a few offensive explosions against Miami’s pitching this season, but those same pitchers also have shut down the Braves on a few occasions, so Miami’s pitching will be the big question of this series.

The Braves are the favorites to advance on the MLB playoffs betting markets, which makes sense given their advantages over the Marlins. Atlanta’s top-two pitchers –Fried and Anderson – threw very well in their postseason debuts, and will give the Braves a decided advantage on the mound in at least three games of this series. The Braves also have more power and run-production in their lineup than the Marlins, which only adds to the reasons why Atlanta should be favored. However, people were saying the same things about Miami in 1997 and 2003 when the Marlins upset a bevy of better teams en route to winning the World Series. My brain tells me to pick the Braves, but my gut is picking the scrappy Marlins at +245 odds.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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