Bryce Elder, one of this season’s toughest pitchers, leads the Atlanta Braves (-200) into Tropicana Field on Sunday as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays (+170) with the visitors eyeing a sweep of the three-game Interleague series. The early total was set at 8.5.
The Braves (60-28) lead the series 2-0 after winning 6-1 on Saturday. Starter Spencer Strider threw 6.1 scoreless innings – striking out 11 – to get the win. Sean Murphy was 1 for 2 with a home run and three RBIs, walking twice, in the win over the Rays (57-35).
ON THE MOUND
Elder (7-1, 2.45 ERA) is in line to start for Atlanta. The RHP leads MLB in ERA. Elder allowed two runs over 6.2 innings in his last start, a 4-2 home win over the Guardians on Monday. He got the win, scattering seven hits while striking out one and walking two.
RHP Zach Eflin (9-4, 3.24 ERA) will toe the rubber for Tampa Bay. It’s his first appearance of the season against the Braves. Eflin made three appearances against the Braves in 2022, all out of the bullpen, striking out four and walking none over 3.2 innings (0-0, 0.00).
In his last start on Tuesday, Eflin took the loss at home against the Phillies. He threw seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits, striking out nine, in the 3-1 defeat. The right-hander is tied for third in the AL in wins.
AT THE PLATE
Over the last five games, Atlanta has averaged 5.0 runs a game, a small drop compared to their season average of 5.6. Against right-handed pitchers like Eflin this season, the Braves have a .811 OPS, the highest in the league.
Ronald Acuna Jr. has the team’s highest on-base percentage against right-handers at .412 over 250 at-bats. Tampa Bay is averaging only 1.6 runs per game in the last five, down from 5.4 for the season, with their slash line dropping across the board (.168/.234/.267).
The Rays have a .778 OPS against right-handers in 2023, the fourth highest in MLB. With a .407 OBP over 187 at-bats, Yandy Diaz has their highest on-base percentage against right-handers.
HOME AND AWAY
Atlanta is on a three-game winning streak away from Truist Park, bringing their record to 30-13 in 2023. The Braves have scored 5.5 runs per game away from home while allowing 3.5 runs.
Tampa Bay has lost five in a row at home. The Rays are 34-15 at home this season, averaging 5.4 runs per game while surrendering 3.8. The teams have split their last 10 meetings head-to-head at Tropicana Field, though Tampa Bay has the scoring advantage with an average final margin of 3.9-3.1.
The Braves lead the NL East by nine games over the Marlins. The Rays are first in the AL East, zero games behind the Rays.
SportsTips’ MLB Pick:
Atlanta Braves (-105)
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of BetMGM.