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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 1, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Though the Washington Nationals are getting most of the Preseason press as favorites in the NL East (and the NL as a whole), the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves aren’t going to just sit idly by. Both are hoping to make a run at the top…Philadelphia with veteran leadership…Atlanta with youth and energy.

The Phillies and Braves open their 2013 campaigns against each other in a game that will be televised nationally in prime time by ESPN2. Let’s crunch some numbers to get you ready for the game as a fan and as a handicapper.

 

FINAL 2012 RECORDS

Atlanta 94-68 (Wildcard)

Philadelphia 81-81 (Wildly Disappointing!)

The Phillies had an expensive roster that was supposed to win the division. Instead, they slumped through the season and settled for a .500 mark that represented a wasted year. Atlanta was respected entering last year, but few were expecting a 94-win campaign. As you may have read in the Monday edition of JIM HURLEY’S SPORTS BETTING NOTEBOOK, the Braves are projected to win about 87 to 87.5 games this year in the markets, Philadelphia about 84 to 84.5.

 

2012 RUNS PER GAME

Atlanta: 4.32

Philadelphia: 4.22

Neither team was particularly dynamic on offense last year. The league average was 4.22, matching the Phils. Atlanta was a tenth of a run better…but that was only good enough for seventh in the NL. These teams finished seventh and eighth in the 16-team league.

 

2012 ON-BASE PERCENTAGE

Atlanta: .320

Philadelphia: .317

An inability to get runners on base was behind the relative lack of scoring (at least for teams who were supposed to be contenders). League average was .318 last year. These teams straddled that, finishing seventh and ninth in the most important offensive category other than runs scored.

 

TONIGHT’S PITCHERS

Philadelphia…Cole Hamels: 17-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Atlanta…Tim Hudson: 16-7, 3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

Cole Hamels has a career record of 91-60, which gives you a sense of how a team of Cole Hamels would fare in a given season. That’s championship caliber performance. Of course, Hudson is 197-104 in a longer career…which is an even better win rate! No mystery at all as to why these guys are getting the call on Opening Day.

Hamels had the better numbers last year in terms of ERA and WHIP, and managed to go 17-6 on a .500 team, which is an impressive feat indeed. Hudson had the slightly better offense coming up behind him. Hamels did more with less.

 

INNINGS PER START AND K-RATE

Cole Hamels: 6.9 IP per start and 9.0 K-Rate

Tim Hudson: 6.4 IP per start and 5.1 K-Rate

Big differences here…as Hamels posted stellar numbers while dominating many opponents with strikeouts. Hudson fell way off his past pace in strikeouts, and became more of a “pitch-to-contact” hurler. You can get away with that if you have a great defense behind you. But, many of those non-strikeouts are prone to fall in for hits. Given Hamels dominance over a longer stretch of IP per game…Hamels would have to get the nod tonight as the superior pitcher. The under might deserve some thought in a projected pitcher’s duel. Check the weather forecast to see if conditions will be helping or hurting the hurlers. But, also remember that ace starters are often on lower pitch counts right out of the gate.

Vegas has Atlanta as a slight home favorite. Will Hamels have enough to counteract Atlanta’s home field edge and general overall team superiority? To find out if this game made the cut at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK, purchase the Monday slate here on the “buy picks” page at VSM. If you want to talk about monthly or seasonal packages, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

PLAY BALL! Then GET THE MONEY! With the proven winners at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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