MLB Regular Season
Matchup: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
Date/Time: August 1, 7:10 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Matt Wisler (5-1, 3.43) vs. Aaron Nola (1-1, 3.29)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: Philadelphia -110
The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies didn’t factor into Friday’s Trade Deadline hijinks, but both teams have their eyes firmly on the future. Interested fans and bettors will get a good look at the future on Friday night when Matt Wisler takes on Aaron Nola. Wisler was acquired as part of the Justin Upton deal with the San Diego Padres last winter. Nola was drafted out of LSU and developed in the Phillies farm system. These two should combine for an exciting matchup between two otherwise unexciting teams.
The Braves didn’t have much to get rid of at the trade deadline, but they still managed to make a big deal earlier in the week. Atlanta gave up Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and prospect Jose Peraza in a massive three-team, 13-player deal that returned a competitive balance pick, Hector Olivera, Paco Rodriguez, and Zachary Bird. The Phillies unloaded Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers for Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Matt Harrison, and three other prospect pitchers. Harrison will slot into the rotation right away, while Alfaro and Williams, who plus possess plus power, will head to the minor leagues.
Matt Wisler has some quality middle of the rotation potential for the Braves as he continues to develop. As it is, Wisler has shown the ability to get Major League hitters out this season with a 3.43 ERA, 4.01 FIP, and 4.64 xFIP. Obviously the xFIP is a worry, but Wisler is an extreme fly ball guy and sabermetrics almost never look kindly on those pitchers. Wisler did miss more bats in the minors than he has in the big leagues, so there’s hope for growth in that area.
Nobody has really been paying attention to the Phillies outside of Philadelphia lately, but the Fightin’ Phils are 13th in wOBA at .323 over the last 30 days thanks in part to a .332 BABIP. This will be more of a test for Wisler than most would anticipate. Not to mention, Citizens Bank Park is a pretty good hitting environment and Wisler is a fly ball pitcher. In small samples, Wisler has a 2.33 ERA at home with a .211/.280/.304 slash against compared to a 4.37 ERA with a .309/.360/.527 slash on the road. For what it’s worth, 14 of the 29 hits he has allowed on the road have gone for extra bases. Don’t read too much into small sample sizes because one bad start can skew the data, but Turner Field is a pretty good yard for fly ball pitchers, so it’s not a surprise that Wisler has been good there and less so on the road.
Aaron Nola has already flashed some of the upside that made him the seventh overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft. Nola closed last season in Double-A and began this season in Double-A before getting promoted after 76.2 innings with a 1.88 ERA and a 2.84 FIP. He made six Triple-A starts with a 3.58 ERA and 3.18 FIP and then got the call to the big leagues right after the All-Star Break. In two starts, Nola is 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA, a 4.83 FIP, and a 3.22 xFIP.
As with most young pitchers, command is a work in progress and Nola has allowed three home runs in 13.2 innings of work. But, he has the opportunity to have three plus pitches that grade out as a 60 per Kiley McDaniel. Not many pitchers around the league have three plus pitches and his 12.2 percent swinging strike rate through two starts is a small indication of what the stuff can be like. His control is definitely advanced due to his time at LSU and he has a lot of upside to be one of the NL’s better arms in the near future.
MLB Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies
There aren’t many times to back the Phillies, but this seems like one of them. This is a tough environment for Wisler to pitch in, even against a lineup as weak as Philadelphia’s, and Nola should get stronger and more polished with each start that he makes. Neither of these teams have a whole lot to be playing for right now, but this is an interesting pitching matchup and a game worthy of your attention on Saturday night.