Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros Game 6 Preview, Predictions, Picks: Bet It Won’t End Here

Max FriedIt all comes down to this. With the World Series returning to Texas for the final two games (if needed), the Houston Astros will look to stave off elimination in game six today against the Atlanta Braves (8:09 PM ET Tuesday; TV: Live on Fox). Get ready, for it’s time for November baseball to commence.

When the 2021 MLB playoffs began, they did so with 10 teams, nine of which were 90 game-winners. The other team was the Braves, who won the NL East with just 88 wins, the smallest such number of any division winner or wildcard entry. The Braves’ 88 wins were five less than the next division winner, the Chicago White Sox of the AL Central. Their 88 wins were two less than a handful of teams that made the wildcard. A road to the World Series for the Braves would have meant defeating the 95-win Milwaukee Brewers and then 107-win San Francisco Giants or 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers. To say that no one gave Atlanta much of a chance would be an understatement. But sure enough, baseball’s most tried and true formula began to play out as the Braves got hot at the right time. The Braves won eight of their last nine regular-season games to clinch the NL East crown for yet another year. They followed that up by defeating the Brewers in the NLDS 3-1 and the Dodgers 4-2 in the NLCS. They have yet to face an elimination game this postseason.

On the surface, it might seem surprising but one look at the Braves’ roster and it’s clear this is a team that possesses everything one needs to win a World Series. And they possess that, even with their best player and would-be MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. having missed most of the season with injury. Atlanta’s offense is filled with bona fide star players and role players who have gone under the radar. Take for example Eddie Rosario, who nearly singlehandedly helped the Braves defeat the Dodgers. Rosario was an overlooked trade deadline acquisition who has proved major dividends for Atlanta. But as good as the offense has been, the Braves bread-and-butter has been the pitching, specifically the all-lefty bullpen. Atlanta is the only team that entered the postseason this year, that has the ability to throw left-handed relievers in the 7th, 8th, and 9th. And to this point, it’s been a huge asset. Tyler Matzek, AJ Mintner, and Will Smith have been a more than effective trio that really didn’t show any cracks until game five against the Astros.

And speaking of those Astros…Houston must feel some sense of redemption for making it to the World Series for the third time in the last five seasons, and first since the big cheating scandal was revealed. Much like players during the steroid era, it seems the Astros didn’t need to cheat to be good. It’s the sad reality of the situation, but one that 2021 is rectifying. Houston made it to the World Series this year on their own merit, and they did so by taking out some heavy hitters of their own. The Astros defeated the White Sox 3-1 in the ALDS and the Boston Red Sox 4-2 in the ALCS. Ironically perhaps, those were the same scores of which the Braves won their two series. But it has been against these very Braves where Houston has run into a brick wall. The Astros found themselves down three games to one, meaning they will need to win three elimination games to claim their second World Series in franchise history.

It certainly won’t be easy as it’s not been done that many times. But the Astros have the benefit of playing in front of a non-hostile crowd, something that will only serve as a benefit compared to their time in Atlanta where they lost two of three. This may perhaps be the only advantage winning 90+ games has given the Astros over the Braves. Because Atlanta has shown their record doesn’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately, though, that record does dictate home field advantage.

Probable Pitchers: (ATL) Max Fried to Look for Redemption Against (HOU) Luis Garcia

Over Max Fried’s still young career, the playoffs have not been kind to the Atlanta ace. Fried has given up 26 earned runs and 56 hits in 50 innings pitched, good enough for a 5.32 ERA.  That dates back to his first postseason start in 2018. Some pitchers take some time to adjust. Look at the most notable example of Clayton Kershaw, who for years had a reputation of being the best regular-season pitcher in baseball yet also, a guy who couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. After pitching his best postseason ever in 2020, many likely believed Fried was turning that corner much as Kershaw did a few seasons ago. But 2021 has held different results. Of those 26 runs I mentioned earlier, 13 have been given up by Fried this year. He is coming off back-to-back starts of giving up at least five runs in no more than five innings pitched each time. This includes his only start thus far against the Astros, where he gave up seven hits and six earned runs in just five innings pitched.

The Braves will likely be watching Fried closely, ready to pull him for the all-star bullpen at any sign of trouble. And there could be trouble. Over with Houston however, the Astros have to feel pretty good about their chances as they’ll be sending Luis Garcia to the mound. Garcia possesses a 3.80 postseason ERA between 2020 and 2021 and this year, had an ERA nearly two runs better at home (2.39 vs 4.24 on the road). And while his 2021 postseason began a little rocky, Garcia is coming off two sterling starts in which he has given up just one earned run over 9.1 innings pitched. The Astros will need him to be just as tight today.

Our Preview’s Atlanta Braves vs Houston Astros Predictions & Final Betting Picks

Behind Garcia and in the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park, the Astros are -1.5 favorites on the runline. We’re anticipating a game seven so take the Astros -1.5 and look for the over on 8.5 as if Houston is to win, it will be in a high-scoring affair.