We expected the NL East to be tight this season, but we didn’t anticipate the entire division struggling as much as it has. Just over a month into the campaign the Philadelphia Phillies are the only team above .500 entering the weekend with the fewest wins of any division leader. They complete a three-game set with division rival Atlanta Braves on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Both clubs have picked up the pace lately.
The Phils moved over .500 with a four-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers while the Braves finished off a three-game game sweep of the Washington Nationals. This is the third series of the season between the clubs with the Phils winning four of the first six meetings.
The contest between NL East rivals takes place on Sunday, May 9, 2021 at 7 p.m. ET from Truist Park in Cumberland, GA. The game will air live on ESPN with betting options for every game on the 2021 MLB schedule available at BookMaker.eu.
Phillies vs Braves Odds
Money Line: Philadelphia Phillies -115 | Atlanta Braves +100
Something’s gotta give in this series with both clubs playing well coming in. The Braves are the favorite to win the NL East and showed why by thumping the Nationals in a three-game set sending Washington to the bottom of the division standings. Atlanta still has work to do since the three-game winning streak still has them one game below the break-even point. Maybe they are turning the corner after a sloppy start saw them down over $600 on the moneyline. The Braves took two of three from the Phils when the clubs met in Georgia earlier this month scoring a total of 19 runs and cashing the OVER in every game.
The Phillies opened the season winning four straight with the first three of those coming against the Braves. They matched their season-high winning streak by sweeping the Brewers with a combination of strong pitching and timely hitting. They managed just four hits but got a complete game shutout from Zack Wheeler in Thursday’s 2-0 victory. The Phils have won four of the first six meetings between the clubs going up 251 units on the moneyline.
The teams send their aces to the bump to close out the series. Aaron Nola has won his last three decisions and the Phils are 5-2 in his starts. Huascar Ynoa has been as lethal at the dish as he has been on the mound. He’s won his last three starts providing much of the offense. He hit a grand slam in Atlanta’s 6-1 win over Washington on Tuesday, his second big fly in as many starts, and he’s 5 for 8 with six RBIs over his last three games. The Braves scored 21 runs in those games cashing the OVER twice.
Nola (3-1, 2.89 ERA) is a bit of a throwback. He takes the ball every fifth day with the intention of finishing what he starts. That doesn’t happen all the time, but the bulldog attitude is commendable since most hurlers are groomed for six or seven innings. He threw 114 pitches last time out against the Brewers fanning 10 and surrendering one run and five hits in 6.0 innings. He’s gone at least six innings in his last four starts and tossed a 2-hit, 10-strikeout shutout against the Cards on April 18.
He wasn’t involved in the decision but Nola had a quality outing against the Braves in the season-opening series. He allowed two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings with six punchouts and no walks. Overall Nola is 11-6 with a 3.03 ERA in 21 career starts against the Braves.
Helping his own cause at the plate, Ynoa (3-1, 2.36 ERA) has become a cult hero this season. Not only did he shutdown the Nats allowing an unearned run on four hits in a season-best 7.0 innings, he also supplied the offense with a two-out grand slam homer. The righty has allowed two runs or fewer in five of his six starts and has homered in consecutive starts.
Ynoa opened the season in the bullpen and was moved to the starting rotation when injuries decimated the staff. Sometimes that’s all it takes. His lone relief appearance came against the Phillies in the season-opening series when he tossed a scoreless frame allowing one hit. Ynoa made five starts among his nine appearances last season compiling a 5.82 ERA without a decision. He’ll be making his fifth appearance and second start against the Phils with a lifetime 2.45 ERA without a decision.
Phillies vs Braves Predictions
Our Picks: Philadelphia Phillies -115 and UNDER 7.5
The whole season for the NL East will probably shake out the way it’s gone so far making games against divisional opponents so important. While Ynoa has been a feel good story this season, Nola has been as consistent and dominant as they come. Like they say, good pitching stops good hitting. The only problem is that the Braves haven’t been a good hitting team, which is why I’m backing Nola and the visitors on the moneyline.