The NL East-leading Atlanta Braves kick off their West Coast swing with a three-game interleague set against the Oakland Athletics. First pitch from the Oakland Coliseum is set for 8:07 p.m. ET. Michael Soroka will toe the mound for the Braves for the first time since 2020, while 2022 All-Star Paul Blackburn makes his season debut for the A’s after missing the spring with a finger injury.
Atlanta enters as the heavy -245 favorite on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while Oakland is a +205 underdog. The run total is set at 9.
Braves-Athletics picks: Monday, May 29
Out: RP Michael Tonkin (neck), RP Dylan Lee (shoulder), SP Max Fried (forearm), 3B Ehire Adrianza (elbow), SP Kyle Wright (shoulder), SP Kolby Allard (oblique), RP Tyler Matzek (elbow), SP Huascar Ynoa (elbow)
Out: SP Drew Rucinski (illness), RP Zach Jackson (elbow), SP Mason Miller (elbow),
Michael Soroka vs. Paul Blackburn
Soroka’s long, arduous road back from not one but two Achilles tears — first in a start on August 2020, then again while rehabbing in June of 2021 — is finally complete. The righty looked like one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball before the injuries, earning an All-Star nod and finishing sixth in NL Cy Young voting in 2019. When he’s right, his sinker earns ground balls at an elite rate, though he’ll obviously need some time to adjust to being back on a Major League mound again.
Blackburn hasn’t been out for nearly as long, but he missed the first two months of this season with two different issues in a finger on his throwing hand. He was a rare bright spot for Oakland last year, posting a 4.28 ERA and serving as the team’s All-Star representative, although he’s struggled to a 7.50 ERA over six tune-ups in the Minors this year.
With so many question marks surrounding both of these pitchers — neither have taken the mound in the Majors for a while, and both put up underwhelming numbers in their rehab stints — plus Atlanta’s powerful lineup, I’m playing it safe and taking the over here. Heck, given Oakland’s historically bad pitching staff, the Braves could clear this total by themselves, while the A’s should be able to take advantage of Soroka’s understandable rust at least a little bit.
Pick: Over 9
Soroka may not be back to his old self, but there’s still just too much offensive firepower for Atlanta.