Welcome back, Philly fans! I felt the total seemed a little fishy in Saturday’s Phillies Betting Preview, but I didn’t follow my suspicions. The Phillies won in 12 innings, 3-2, so I still had a chance to keep my streak going, but as long as the Phillies get the W, I’ll take the L.
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Braves (-105) vs Phillies (-115) O/U 9.5
For Phillies fans, this feels a little like a playoff series, as their divisional nemesis Atlanta Braves, come to Philadelphia for a 3-game set. These two NL East foes won’t meet again until the middle of September in what will hopefully be two series for playoff seeding. The first pitch is set for 6:40 p.m.
The Braves trot RHP Spencer Strider (7-2 4.12) to the hill for Tuesday night’s contest. Strider, who has dominated the Phillies in his career, has encountered a little bit of difficulty recently. In his two most recent starts, he has an ERA of 13.00, 15 hits allowed, four walks issued, and five home runs in just nine innings pitched. He only has a 1-0 record in those 2 games because of the Braves potent lineup.
The Braves offense during this 8-2 stretch over the last 10 games has been nothing short of explosive. They are averaging 7.2 runs per contest, hitting .298 as a team, 21 home runs, and a team OPS of .899. Those kinds of numbers can certainly mask poor pitching performances.
The Phillies counter with LHP Ranger Suarez (1-2 3.82). It took Suarez a few games from an injury sustained during the World Baseball Classic to get back to the form that saw him post a career 3.12 ERA coming into the season. Over his last five starts, which include a 5-inning 5-run blasting from the D-Backs, Suarez’s ERA is 2.56, his xFIP is 3.43, and his WHIP is 1.07.
Another stat that really reinforces the concept that Suarez has been effective, and not just lucky, is his BABIP (Batted Balls In Play) average. Over his past five starts, his BABIP is .273, which is only slightly lower than the league average of around .300. GTS’s own Mike Malinowski wrote a fantastic piece breaking down what BABIP is and how to interpret it.
Whereas the Braves have simply been mashing the ball, the Phillies have been doing it with timely offense and strong pitching. The Phils have averaged 5.6 runs during their own 8-2 run, batting .272 as a team, with an OPS of .779 and only 11 home runs. Three of those were “Schwarber-Bombs,” home runs by Kyle Schwarber to lead off a game.
Philly fans are often jaded, “half-empty” types of people. A familiar refrain that I have heard lately is the quality of the opponent that the Phillies have been beating. While Oakland isn’t confusing anybody as a playoff contender (even though they had another historic winning streak end right before they played the Phils), the Phillies did win a series from Arizona and the Dodgers. Both of those teams have records north of .500.
Meanwhile, the teams the Braves have been feasting upon aren’t exactly a “Murderers’ Row” of opposition. Their series wins in their past 10 games have come against the Nationals, the Detroit Tigers, and the Colorado Rockies, all below the .500 mark.
This is an interesting matchup because Strider has OWNED the Phillies in his career. With the victory over Philadelphia, he recorded on May 28th, he joined ex-Brave John Smoltz and four other starters to have won their first five games against the Phillies. Of those six pitchers, Strider has pitched the least amount of innings during his win streak but has struck out the most (43).
Suarez has regained his form as well, and I can see this becoming a pitcher’s duel and, thus, a low-scoring affair. The 8.5 total seems too high.
Bets and Season Record
Pick: Braves/Phillies UNDER 8.5 -110 3 Units
Up 23.5 units (+$2350)