In yesterday’s Phillies Betting Preview, my indecision of what side to pick led me to the over, and boy am I glad it did. Maybe I’ll start putting a prop bet on my featured player, as the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber hit a grand slam in the first inning and Philadelphia covered the total themselves, winning 12-3. Luckily our losing streak wasn’t as long as Philly’s and were up to +18 units on the season.
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Cubs (+100) vs Phillies (-120) O/U 9
Taking the hill in the rubber match for the Chicago Cubs is LHP Justin Steele (6-1 2.44). He squares off against the Phillies RHP Taijuan Walker (3-2 6.53). The first pitch is set for 1:35 p.m.
Compared to some of the pitching we’ve seen lately (yeah, I’m talking about you Jameson Taillon), Justin Steele looks like Cy Young. In his third year in the bigs, Steele already has already set a new season-high in wins with six.
Many of his advanced analytic stats have also improved, indicating that this hot start he’s having is not a fluke. The only stat that is slightly regressed is his strikeout percentage, at 21.7% down from his career average of 23.8% His walk percentage has dropped from his career mark of 9.4% to 6.9% in 2023. Entering the season, his HardHit% was 34.6% but this year is resting comfortably at 24.4%. This stat is further backed up by his home run percentage of 0.9% (2 long balls in 55 1/3 innings).
Unfortunately for Phillies fans, Walker’s numbers are the polar opposite of his counterpart’s. He got rocked his last time out, giving up four runs on four hits and two walks and didn’t get out of the first inning at San Francisco. For the season, he’s allowed 43 hits and 30 runs, all earned, in 41 1/3 innings. In that time span, he’s also served up eight gopher balls, for a home run percentage of 4.4%, 1.1% higher than his career average.
Not making things any easier for Walker, Sunday’s start comes on only three days’ rest. The Phillies management is allowing Zack Wheeler to get his full four days off, so he’ll be completely recharged Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Walker has pitched before on short rest and has been effective. But that was during a season where he was pitching well. I don’t believe he will be very effective Sunday and may put more strain on an already heavily worked bullpen this week.
Everything is pointing toward a Cubs victory here. While yesterday’s offensive explosion was nice to see from the standpoint of a Phillies fan, it was a temporary diversion from a team that is still struggling. Going up against a certifiable ace in Steele should prove too much for Philadelphia. Getting the Cubs at even money is just another bonus.
Bets and Season Record
Pick: Chicago Cubs Money Line +100 4-UNITS
Run Line: 2-1 (+6 units)
O/U: 5-3 (+5 units)
Money Line: 4-0 (+7 units)
Prop Bets: 0-1 (-2 units)
Up 18 units (+$1,800)