Looking to get back on the field for the first time in nearly a week, the New York Yankees are hoping a trip to Atlanta will provide just the cure for what has been a rough patch of late. With a tentative hold over the lead in the NL East, Atlanta Braves will look to show that they can stand toe-to-toe with the Yankees and that they aren’t just another average team in the increasingly average-looking National League.
These teams were set to begin their series on Tuesday night but rain forced the first game to be postponed until today, where Atlanta and New York will play a double-header (game one is at 4:10 PM Wednesday and game two is at 7:10 PM pending the finish of game one).
So here are our NYY vs Atlanta Braves predictions for this preview with picks.
Getting Over the Injury Bug in the Bronx
Today’s double-header will be the first of three such twin bills that the Yankees will play over the next five days. They couldn’t have come at a worse time. While the Yankees are set to enter this series well-rested, the nearly week off won’t have done much to speed up the healing process of some of the team’s top stars. Aaron Judge is expected to return to the lineup during this series for the first time in two weeks. It is likely he’ll be rusty as he hasn’t had much field time due to his injured right calf. This isn’t the first time Judge has been injured and it has to be concerning for New York given injuries doomed what could have been a promising championship season last year as well.
Speaking of long-suffering players, Giancarlo Stanton is back on the DL as well, with a strained left hamstring. Stanton’s recent injury history has plagued New York and once again, his lack of being in the lineup has shown negative results. Add to that the fact that DJ LeMahieu, who had been hitting an insanely high .411 on the season, with 15 runs scored, is also out with a sprained left thumb, and you’ve got a Yankees team that is in serious trouble.
New York, in their last game action prior to positive COVID-19 tests which forced their series against the New York Mets to be cancelled, faced the rival and AL East-contending Tampa Bay Rays. While Tampa Bay has been a great team this year, it is likely no one would have expected them to give the Yankees their first sweep loss of the season. Judge, Stanton and LeMahieu missed all three games and their absence was critical. The Yankees have a hard time staying healthy and that has hurt them in the past and could well threaten to do so this year. Especially with their tough schedule ahead which will see the team play 35 games in just 33 days, starting with the Braves two-game series today.
Does Anyone Want to Win the NL East?
It’s a serious question because at times this year, the entire division has looked abysmal. At times they have all looked great, right on the precipice of taking the crown in this 60-game King of the Hill currently being played by the five teams. From top-to-bottom, no team is more tightly bunched in all of baseball than that of the NL East, with all five teams separated by just 4.5 games. The Braves lead the way, but their record of 16-12 is the worst of any division leader. The Braves, early season favorites to win the division for the second year in a row, have at times, looked mediocre at best and abysmal at worse. But at other times, they have looked like a complete team, capable of beating anyone. In a season as short as this one, Atlanta will need to figure out what kind of team it actually is sooner rather than later and there will perhaps be no better test than against the Yankees.
Because yes, New York isn’t operating at full strength right now, but newsflash, this team is still the Yankees. They are still one of the best teams in baseball and will still be able to bring a significant level of strong pitching and hitting to the fray today.
Starting in game one will be the undefeated Gerrit Cole, who has been every bit worth the price tag New York paid to sign him this offseason. Cole has 44 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA, and brings into this game a streak of winning 20 consecutive decisions since last May, which is tied for the third-longest in MLB history. He hasn’t lost in his last 28 starts. That’s unfathomable. Cole will be opposed on the mound by Atlanta’s No.3 ranked prospect, Ian Anderson, who will be making his MLB debut. Picked third overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, Anderson is someone Atlanta is hoping can become a future piece of their rotation. He won’t have an easy go of it making his first start against this Yankees team and Cole, but hey, trial by fire can sometimes surprise you with the results.
It will be the Braves who throw their top pitcher at this Yankees lineup in game two as MVP candidate, Max Fried, will get the start against Masahiro Tanaka. Fried is also undefeated in four starts this year, and boasts 33 strikeouts and just a 1.32 ERA. He is perhaps the best pitcher in baseball right now so it is almost a shame for the fans that he won’t be opposing Cole in what could be a pitcher’s duel for the century. Instead, he’ll take on Tanaka, who has been a bit of a mixed bag this year. Tanaka has struggled but he chalks it up to mechanics, something the Yankees believe he’ll be able to fix in time for this start.
With double-headers, things tend to become bullpen games. No doubt New York and Atlanta will look to save theirs with strong outings from Fried and Cole. The benefit to the double-header rules this year make that possible as games are just seven innings in double-headers, meaning it wouldn’t be unlikely to see Cole or Fried, or both, go the distance or close in their outings. Should either or both games come down to the ‘pens, advantage New York. The Yankees have Aroldis Chapman, one of the best flamethrowers in baseball and he has had a good year. Zack Britton is still injured but the rest of the group has played well and should be able to keep any lead Cole and/or Tanaka have.
Our Preview’s NYY vs Atlanta Braves Picks & Betting Predictions
With a double header, comes a double dose of picks. Take the Yankees to win game one and the Braves to take the getaway game in game two. These are the NYY vs Atlanta Braves predictions against the USA online sportsbooks and top betting sites for this preview: