This showdown between the last two World Series winners started off with a bang on Friday night, as Yordan Alvarez’s ninth-inning homer propelled the Houston Astros to a win in game one of a three-game set. The Atlanta Braves will look to answer back on Saturday night at Truist Park in Atlanta, with first pitch set for 7:20 p.m. ET. Framber Valdez (1-2, 1.80 ERA) will go for Houston, while Kyle Wright (0-0, 6.23) starts for the Braves.
The Astros are very narrow -115 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while Atlanta checks in at -105. The run total is set at 8.5.
Astros-Braves picks: Saturday, April 22
Out: OF Chas McCormick (back), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb), RP Parker Mushinski (back), SP Lance McCullers Jr. (elbow), OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Out: RP Lucas Luetge (biceps), SS Orlando Arcia (wrist), C Travis d’Arnaud (concussion), OF Michael Harris II (back), RP Collin McHugh (shoulder), RP Raisel Iglesias (shoulder), SP Kolby Allard (oblique), RP Tyler Matzek (elbow), SP Huascar Ynoa (elbow)
Framber Valdez vs. Kyle Wright
Valdez has looked every bit like the All-Star he was last season. His defense betrayed him last time out against the Texas Rangers (five runs, just one earned), but his power sinker is once again inducing ground balls at an elite rate.
Wright seems to still be knocking the rust off after his injury-interrupted spring. His breakout season last year was largely built on much-improved command, as he cut his walks per nine innings from 7.1 all the way down to 2.6. That problem has reared its head again in 2023, though, as the righty has walked seven batters over his first two starts. The Braves have to hope that it’s just a matter of regaining his feel.
These are two teams whose offensive reputations may be overstating things at the moment. The Astros are just 20th in the league in OPS against right-handers, while with Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Harris II on the shelf, this Braves lineup can fall off a cliff after the first four or five batters. Wright makes me a bit nervy, but this could be the start where his fastball command locks in, while Valdez is one of the game’s best run preventers.
Pick: Under 8.5
In a matchup that feels like a coin flip, I’ll always opt for the better odds. Valdez could dominate and lead Houston to a win, but this Astros lineup has been slumping for a while and I like the Braves to bounce back and avoid a losing streak.