There are 16 games on the MLB betting board on Saturday headlined by an interleague clash between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves.
The defending World Series champion Braves took the first contest in this three-game series last night and oddsmakers are expecting them to win again, installing them as -166 home favorites against the AL pennant-leading Astros.
Here are the best free Astros vs. Braves MLB picks and predictions for August 20.
Astros vs Braves odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
This line hit the board with the Braves installed as -136 home faves with the Over/Under at 7.5. Early money came in on the home side, moving the line all the way to Atlanta -166 with the Astros coming back at +140. The Total has stayed steady at 7.5.
Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until first pitch and be sure to check out the full MLB odds before placing your bets.
Astros vs Braves predictions
Picks made on 8/20/2022 at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Astros vs Braves game info
• Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
• Date: Saturday, August 20, 2022
• First pitch: 7:15 p.m. ET
• TV: FOX
Astros vs Braves betting preview
Cristian Javier (7-8, 2.96 ERA): The 25-year-old has pitched to an impressive 1.03 WHIP with an opponent batting average of .184 and 138 punchouts in 106 1-3 innings. He's coming off a gem against the A's where he pitched six innings of shutout ball and allowed just a single hit.
Spencer Strider (7-4, 3.04 ERA): Strider is currently the NL Rookie of the Year odds favorite alongside his teammate Michael Harris. The 23-year-old has pitched to a 1.04 WHIP in 25 games (14 starts) and has racked up a whopping 142 strikeouts through 94 2-3 innings. In his last outing on Monday, he threw five innings of one-run ball and limited the Mets to three hits.
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.
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Betting trend to know
The Astros are 25-7 in their last 32 games versus a team with a winning record. Find more MLB betting trends for Astros vs. Braves
Astros vs Braves picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
The Braves beat the Astros 6-2 last night and have now won 10 of their last 11 games. Despite that loss, Houston is still 6-3 in its previous nine contests and has the best record in the American League at 74-44.
Both these teams can mash,with the Braves second in the majors with an OPS of .763 and the Astros in sixth place with an OPS of .746. Though Atlanta has bumped up their OPS to an MLB-best .854 over the last week, Houston is close behind them at .833.
While the Braves have an ever-so-slight edge at the dish, the Astros have a minor advantage in the bullpen, where their relievers lead the majors with a 2.96 ERA, moderately better than Atlanta's 3.21 ERA.
When it comes to the starting pitchers, we have another area where both teams are eerily similar. Braves rookie Spencer Strider has an overpowering fastball that averages 98.2 MPH. That outstanding velocity, combined with elite extension and above-average movement, has resulted in the rookie averaging an MLB-best 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Although he needs to develop more offspeed pitches (he does wield an effective slider in addition to his four-seamer) and reduce his walks, he has still been able to overpower most batters. Not only has his ERA of 3.04 been impressive, but his expected ERA of 2.61 is even lower.
The Astros will give the pill to 25-year-old Cristian Javier, who is also heavily reliant on his four-seamer and slider. Javier averages 11.7 K/9 and has an xERA of 2.63.
When it comes right down to it, there is very little separating these two teams. Both have a deep lineup with plenty of power, both have young outstanding pitchers who rack up strikeouts while relying almost entirely on fastballs and sliders, and both have effective bullpens.
Home-field advantage seems to be the biggest factor dividing these teams in this one, but that hardly seems worthy of a -166 price on the Braves. This line shouldn't be much more than -130 for the home side which has me backing the visiting Astros at +140.
Prediction: Astros moneyline (+140 at Caesars)
With two strong starters on the mound, this total is sitting at a low 7.5, but as good as Strider and Javier have been they're far from polished and these lineups are both loaded.
Both Strider and Javier struggle with their control at times and their over-reliance on two pitches (95% of Strider's arsenal is made up of fastballs and sliders) could lead to trouble against hard-hitting lineups that tend to make very good contact with those offerings.
Keep in mind that while Strider was lights-out in three of his last five starts, he also got lit up in the other two. He gave up five runs in four innings against the Nats and surrendered four runs in less than three innings versus the Mets.
The Astros have a stacked lineup led by sluggers like Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Kyle Tucker, and they've plated 5.11 runs per game over the last 30 days.
Atlanta has been even better, averaging 5.37 runs/game over the same span and leading the majors in barrel rate while ranking second in hard-hit rate over the course of the entire season. I think at least one of these teams is able to light up the scoreboard today, which should be enough to push this game Over the lower total.
Prediction: Over 7.5 (-105 at bet365)
Once again with a matchup between two similarly matched clubs, it seems a bit strange to see such a lopsided line.
The Astros have the second-best World Series futures odds for good reason, have been playing well, and have a squad of sluggers that are routinely among the best in the majors. They're also starting a good pitcher in Javier who has looked very sharp lately, pitching to a 1.50 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP in three starts this month.
Being able to get them at +140 against any team seems like a bargain.
Pick: Astros moneyline (+140 at Caesars)
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