The Houston Astros pulled off a second straight late-inning rally in Atlanta on Saturday, and now will look for what would be a very impressive sweep of the Braves at Truist Park on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:35 p.m. ET. Cristian Javier (2-0, 3.68 ERA) will start for Houston, while Max Fried (1-0, 1.08) goes for Atlanta.
The Braves are currently -140 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Astros are +120 underdogs. The run total is set at 8.
Astros-Braves picks: Sunday, April 23
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)
Cristian Javier vs. Max Fried
Javier has taken a step back after his 2022 breakout, although he did spin five innings of one-run ball against the Toronto Blue Jays his last time out. Javier lives and dies with his four-seam fastball, which he throws nearly 60 percent of the time, but his heater has betrayed him a bit this season. His velocity is down almost a full mile per hour and he’s left it over the middle of the plate far too often so far. The result? Batters are hitting .293 against it, more than 100 points higher than last season.
Fried looked like he hadn’t missed a beat in his return from a hamstring injury earlier in the week, spinning five shutout innings while allowing just four hits against the San Diego Padres. The lefty is one of the best run-preventers in the Majors, with elite command (he’s yet to issue a walk this year) that allows his fastball, curveball and changeup to induce tons of weak contact despite less than overpowering velocity.
These teams have combined for 10 and 9 runs over the last two days, but needed a flurry of late-inning runs to do so. Javier’s fastball is cause for real concern, especially against a Braves lineup that has had success against right-handers so far this year. Still, I expect Fried to have a lot of success against a weakened Houston offense and expect something like a 5-2 scoreline.
Javier is yet to feel really locked in so far this season, while I have a hard time seeing the Braves getting swept on their home field — especially with Fried on the mound.