Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves Pick & Prediction APRIL 15th 2024

After three consecutive rough outings by their rotation, the Houston Astros were bolstered by the performances of right-handers Ronel Blanco and Cristian Javier over the final two games of their three-game weekend series with the Texas Rangers.

Houston hopes that trend continues as it opens a three-game interleague series at home against the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

A day after Blanco allowed two runs in six innings, Javier gave up two runs in seven innings to help the Astros beat the Rangers 8-5 on Sunday in the series rubber match. Earlier in the day, Houston left-hander Framber Valdez (elbow soreness) gave an update on his rehab.

“God willing, I’m planning to play catch on Tuesday and then just go on my regular routine,” said Valdez, who was placed on the 15-day injured list on April 9.

Valdez made his third Opening Day start for the Astros before joining four other starters on the IL, including Justin Verlander, who made his second rehab start for Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday. Verlander (shoulder) allowed six runs (five earned) while throwing 77 pitches over four innings. He joined his Astros teammates in the clubhouse on Sunday.

“Having JV in there and the conversation, it’s a different vibe,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “The offense coming together and getting big hits, and middle relief getting some outs for us, it feels like we’re getting over that hump.

“But we’ve got another good team coming in here, and we’ve got to continue to build on this, continue to do the small things that we do well. If we do, we’re going to be just fine.”

Astros rookie right-hander Spencer Arrighetti (0-1, 21.00 ERA) will make his second career start on Monday. In his big league debut Wednesday, Arrighetti, 24, allowed seven runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out three, in three innings as Houston lost 11-2 to the Kansas City Royals.

Braves right-hander Darius Vines (1-0, 3.98 ERA in 2023) was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and will start the series opener on Monday. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Braves’ No. 14 prospect, Vines made two starts for Gwinnett this season, going 0-0 with a 3.75 ERA, recording 11 strikeouts over 12 innings. The 25-year-old made five appearances (two starts) for the Braves last season.

The Braves pulled out a 9-7 road win in the rubber match of their three-game series with the Miami Marlins on Sunday. With Atlanta down to its final strike, Marcell Ozuna hit a go-ahead, three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning.

“Those kinds of clutch moments are do or die, and if you get results, you get results,” Ozuna said. “If you fail, you fail. The only thing you have to worry (about) is making good contact. If you’re out, you’re out.

“When you have your confidence, everything is going to (be seen) well. Then you can hit better. If you don’t have any confidence, you’re going to be struggling. Right now, I have my mind clear and I can do whatever God gives me to do.”

–Field Level Media

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