The 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves aim to defend their title with an opening National League series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Atlanta captured its fourth World Series title and first since 1995, defeating the Houston Astros in six games. The Reds aim to build off a solid 2021 campaign where they just missed the postseason.
Thursday’s first pitch is at 8 p.m. EST at Truist Park in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta is -200 on the moneyline, and the over-under run total is at 8.5.
What to Know – Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati begins its 153rd season in franchise history after finishing the 2021 season with an 83-79 record and a third-place finish in the NL Central. The Reds missed the postseason after falling to this Braves team in the 2020 NL Wild Card Series. Cincinnati has appeared in the playoffs just once since 2013.
On the mound for the visitors is right-hander Tyler Mahle. The 27-year old posted a 13-6 record in 2021, finishing with a 3.75 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Mahle is coming off the best year of his career, setting career highs in starts, innings, and strikeouts.
The Reds lineup has a big void to fill with the departure of Nick Castellanos to the Phillies. Veteran Joey Votto enters his 16th season in a Reds uniform after swatting 36 home runs and driving in 99 RBI last year. Votto is joined in the lineup by NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India and off-season addition Tommy Pham. Cincinnati’s win total is projected at 79.5 games.
What to Know – Atlanta Braves
The Braves take the field for the 152nd time in the team’s history and look to defend their World Series title. Atlanta won the NL East and NL pennant, posting an 88-73 record. The Braves reached the World Series for the first time since 1999.
Southpaw Max Fried toes the rubber for the Braves. Fried made 28 starts last season, wrapping up the year with a 14-7 record, 3.04 ERA, and 1.09 WHIP. The 28-year old was voted All-MLB Second Team with his performance.
Thursday night, the Braves will take the field for the first time since 2010 without All-Star Freddie Freeman in the lineup. Atlanta replaces the slugger with Matt Olsen, who was brought in after the lockout in a trade with Oakland.
Star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. won’t be ready for Opening Day, so the Braves will lean on Austin Riley, Dansby Swanson, and Marcell Ozuna to carry the offensive load. The Braves projected win total is 89.5 games.
The Pick is In
The weather shouldn’t be a factor in the opener, with temperatures expected in the low 60s at first-pitch. Atlanta and Cincinnati lost a lot of firepower in the offseason with the departure of Freeman and Castellanos. The new-look lineups may take some time to jell.
Thursday’s edge goes to the starters and the defense in a low-scoring opener that the Braves pull out at home.
Betting Pick: Braves/Reds U8.5