David Payne writes for Covers Experts Ben Burns.
Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (-132, 8.5)
Philadelphia owned Atlanta last season.
However, Brett Myers, the Phillies’ starter in Sunday’s season opener, did not.
The Phillies won 14 of 18 against the Braves, including winning all nine games in Atlanta.
But Myers went 0-2 with a 10.39 against the Braves. Atlanta hit .436 off Myers and shelled him in its meeting in late September.
It wasn’t just the Braves, either. Myers was bad against everyone to start last year and ended up costing bettors big time. Only Detroit’s Justin Verlander lost more money for bettors than Myers, who finished the season $-1,351.
Myers did rebound from the slow start and pitched well down the stretch and during the playoffs.
He lost 25 pounds in the offseason and is in the final year of his contract.
“This year has the potential to a big year for him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he's ready to go and he spent a lot of time this winter working out and getting in shape and he came to spring training that way. He's looking forward to having a big season for us, and we need him to have a big season to repeat."
The Braves will counter with newcomer Derek Lowe. Last season with the Dodgers, Lowe went 3-1 in five appearances against the Phillies. He pitched well in the NLCS, but suffered a loss and a no decision.
Lowe, a sinker-baller, was especially effective last season at night, going 11-8 with a 2.86 ERA.
Philadelphia has a nearly identical lineup, with only Pat Burrell not returning. Longtime Seattle Mariner Raul Ibanez takes over Burrell duties in left field. Center fielder Shane Victorino had 14 RBIs against the Braves last year.
The Braves have two new bats in their line-up with the additions of Garrett Anderson and rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer.
Third baseman Chipper Jones sat out Saturday’s game because he was feeling ill, but he’s expected to play today. Jones hit .456 against Philadelphia last season.
Manager Bobby Cox is hoping to get more consistency from right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The youngster has never been short on talent but his lack of discipline at the dish resulted in his worst campaign in the pros.
He adjusted his swing in the offseason and it showed during Spring Training. Francoeur went 2-for-2 with a big fly yesterday afternoon pushing his Grapefruit League batting average to .328.
“He’s hit the ball hard, straight up the middle and using all fields, which is a good idea for any hitter,” Cox told reporters. “I think he looks real good right now. He could be a huge plus for us.”
Obviously, Citizens Bank Park will be rocking, with the Phillies opening defense of their first World Series title in 28 years.
In the past 10 seasons, World Series champions are 8-2 in their home-openers.