After splitting a doubleheader on Saturday, the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians will play the rubber match of their series on Sunday Night Baseball. The Indians are -128 favorites to win Sunday’s game at home.
A loss in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader snapped a four-game winning streak for Cleveland. The Indians swept the Mariners earlier in the week, wins they needed after they were swept by the lowly Royals last weekend. At 12-8 overall, Cleveland is now tied with the Twins for first place in the AL Central.
Meanwhile, the Braves enter Sunday’s game 10-10 on the season and right in the middle of a cluttered and competitive NL East. Atlanta was swept at home by the Diamondbacks earlier in the week, so getting a win Saturday night snapped a four-game losing streak. Getting a win on Sunday would be a great way for the Braves to turn their momentum around with a series against the last-place Reds coming up this week.
You’re Gonna Fry
Max Fried will take the mound for the Braves Sunday night. After starting the season in the bullpen, the young lefty has moved to the rotation and become Atlanta’s best starter. He’s allowed just two earned runs on 13 hits over his first 19.2 innings, giving him a 0.92 ERA. Fried has also pitched at least six innings in all of his three starts, which has been helpful for a Braves team with an ailing bullpen.
Naturally, this will be the first time Fried faces most of Cleveland’s hitters. The 15 runs the Indians scored over two games on Saturday notwithstanding, the Tribe has been one of the worst offensive teams in baseball early in the season. Leonys Martin has provided a spark at the top of the lineup, and Carlos Santana is mashing despite a lack of home runs. However, no one else in the Cleveland lineup has gotten it going this year, specifically Jose Ramirez.
Yet Another Ace
The Cleveland pitching staff is full of aces, and it looks like they have another one in Shane Bieber, who’ll get the ball Sunday night. Bieber is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts and one relief outing this season. In his 21 innings of work, he’s allowed just 11 hits and six walks, making him as tough as any of Cleveland’s starters.
Of course, the Braves may be the best offensive team Bieber has faced this year. Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to look like a star in the making, hitting .300 with an OPS of 1.045. Atlanta is also getting plenty of productivity out of veterans Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Josh Donaldson is also starting to find his groove, so Bieber will have plenty of savvy veterans to face Sunday night.
You Gotta Score
Sunday’s game sets up to be a pitcher’s duel between Fried and Bieber, two of the brightest young pitchers in the game right now. That means the winner of this game will be the one more apt to score runs. Despite Saturday’s outburst, the Indians are struggling offensively and still have a lot to prove. Bet on the Braves as underdogs to win on Sunday night.