It was a “good news, bad news” situation for the Phillies’ Betting Preview yesterday. My run line bet of Arizona -1.5 was one strike away from cashing when the sieve-bullpen of the D-Backs gave up a single and the slumping Phillies’ Trea Turner hit a game-tying 2-run homer, sending it extra frames. Philly went on to win in the 10th. Love seeing Philly win, hate seeing my bet go up in flames like that.
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Phillies (-115) vs Braves (-105) O/U 9.0
The Phillies, 23-26 after their late-inning heroics yesterday, start a 10-game road trip on Thursday against the Atlanta Braves, who sit atop the NL East with a record of 30-19. The first pitch is set for 7:20 p.m.
RHP Aaron Nola (4-3 4.31) gets the call for the Phillies and will square off with the Braves rookie LHP Dylan Dodd (2-1 6.46). This is the first meeting of the season between the two NL East foes.
Aaron Nola is off of an impressive outing against the Chicago Cubs where he went seven strong innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and two runs. He set a season-high for strikeouts with 10.
Nola has faced Atlanta more than any other opponent in his seven-year career. His results have been varied, but in the two games he pitched down in Truist Park last season, he was very effective. In both starts, he went seven full innings and averaged nine strikeouts per game.
The highly-touted rookie Dodd has struggled so far in his three starts in the bigs. Looking at his metrics, at first his 6.46 ERA seems a little high. Until you take a look at his FIP (FIP), which is Field Independent Pitching. This stat is a little more precise than ERA, because it only measures events that the pitcher has control over: strikeouts, walks, HBP, and home runs. Dodd’s FIP is 5.69, which is fairly high above the league average of 4.05.
The Braves offense has a lot of power, a decent average, and strikes out just a bit more than the average squad. They’re 3rd in baseball with 80 homers, just a spot behind the 10th-ranked Phillies in batting with a .254 average, and their 432 team strikeouts are only six above the league average.
While their hitting has been good, their pitching has been phenomenal. They have the league’s 4th-best ERA at 3.62 (they’re 3rd in FIP at 3.65). Their staff is second in strikeouts with 473.
Their relief corps, however, has been merely average, with an ERA of 4.02, just .04 lower than the horrible Phillies bullpen (who has started getting their act together finally). The bullpen has a WHIP of 1.23, which compares favorably to the Phillies at 1.38.
Right now, the Phillies are incredibly difficult to handicap. They are not hitting with any consistency whatsoever. The pitching has been equally shaky. I’ll be the first to admit, I had chalked yesterday’s game up with a W in my betting win column. But I’m going to rely on the ace of their staff to deliver a quality start.
Philadelphia has a chance to pick up some valuable real estate, so they don’t have as much to make up later in the season. Since their chance to run wire-to-wire is up, they have to be like a stalking racehorse, just off the lead with a furious kick at the end.
I think they use the momentum they got from their walk-off win yesterday to fuel them in the first of this 4-game series. They know that the other three are going to be much harder to win. I’m taking the Phillies on the money line for 2 units.
Bets and Season Record
Pick: Philadelphia -115 2 units
Run Line: 2-2 (+4 units)
O/U: 5-5 (+1 units)
Money Line: 4-1 (+3 units)
Prop Bets: 0-2 (-4 units)
Up 6 units (+$600)