The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves opened a four-game series at Truist Park in Atlanta on Thursday night, meeting each other for the first time since June 2019. Here’s the best Pirates vs. Braves betting pick for the second contest on Friday, May 21, so let’s take a closer look.
The Braves are listed as firm -178 favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook, while the Pirates are +164 moneyline dogs with a total of 8.5 runs. Atlanta was a -200 fave with a total of 7.5 runs on Thursday.
Pittsburgh entered the Braves series on a three-game losing streak
The Pittsburgh Pirates started this week in St. Louis and got swept by the Cardinals in a short two-game set. They were 17-25 on Thursday, sitting bottom of the NL Central standings, seven and a half games behind the leader St. Louis.
Excluding their opening clash against Atlanta, the Pirates have dropped 14 of their last 19 games overall. The Bucs are dead last in baseball in runs scored per game (3.45), and over the last 20 days, Pittsburgh owns the second-worst OPS in the majors (.615).
The Pirates are yielding 4.64 runs per game (21st in the majors). Tyler Anderson will take the hill on Friday, and the 31-year-old lefty is the Bucs’ most consistent pitcher this season. He owns a solid 3.50 ERA and 1.10 WHIP along with a 44/14 K/BB ratio across 46.1 frames of work. Anderson is 1-0 with a poor 6.75 ERA in a couple of career starts against the Braves.
The Braves continue with their iffy form
The Atlanta Braves entered the Pirates series with a 20-23 record, as they lost six of their last nine games overall excluding Thursday’s opener. The Braves were third in the NL East, three games behind the top-seeded New York Mets.
Brian Snitker’s boys are batting only .216 over the last 20 days (27th in the majors) while posting a poor .680 OPS (23rd). The Braves still owns the ninth-highest scoring offense in baseball with 4.56 runs per game, but they’ve struggled mightily over the last few weeks.
Atlanta’s pitching staff has been awful so far this season, and the Braves are yielding a whopping 4.95 runs per game (25th in the majors). Ian Anderson will toe the slab Friday, and he’s 3-1 with a 3.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 47/21 K/BB ratio in eight starts this term (45 innings pitched). The righty has never met the Pirates before.
- 5-14 in the last 19 games overall
- 1-5 in the last six games on the road
- 6-1 in Ian Anderson’s last seven starts
- 10-3 in the last 13 games against Pittsburgh
The Braves desperately need to get things going on both sides of the ball. After a couple of rough starts earlier this month, Ian Anderson tossed six innings of a one-run ball against Milwaukee last time out, and I’m expecting him to dominate the Pirates’ offense.
Anyway, the Braves starting pitcher will need some run support, and the Braves have so much firepower on their lineup. I’m looking for Atlanta’s bats to break out of their funk and make the difference in a favorable matchup with the Bucs.
Pick: Take Atlanta Braves at -178
The Braves possess one of the most potent offenses in baseball, and their slump cannot last forever. I would stick with the hosts to win, as the totals seem like a tricky wager here.
Pittsburgh’s offense is the worst in the majors, so Ian Anderson could shut the Pirates down on a good day. On the other hand, the Braves relievers sport the seventh-highest ERA in the majors (4.84), and the visitors might add to the scoreline late in the game.
Pick: Go under 8.5 runs at -120