Matchup: San Francisco Giants at Philadelphia Phillies
Date/Time: July 23, 7:05 p.m., ET
MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook
Probable Starters: SF: Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 3.38) v A.J. Burnett (6-9, 4.08)
Moneyline: San Francisco -129
Total: 7.5 -110/-110
In Game 3 of a four-game set, the Giants will have the first of two cracks at winning the series at Citizens Bank Park following a 9-6 win in 14 innings on Tuesday night. With the win, the Giants remained atop the NL West, one game ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost 12-7 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies have now lost five straight and nine of their last ten at home.
Both bullpens were used extensively on Tuesday night as the teams combined to use 16 pitchers. Both Yusmeiro Petit and Roberto Hernandez failed to go six innings, forcing the relievers to throw 17.1 combined innings, with nine innings for the Giants bullpen and 8.1 innings for the Phillies bullpen. Tim Lincecum recorded his first Major League save, shutting the door in the 14th inning. That could have an impact on Wednesday’s game, especially if the starters fail to deep work into the game.
The All-Star Break couldn’t have come at a better time for Madison Bumgarner. He posted a 7.03 ERA in his final four starts prior to the break and amassed 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 24.1 innings of work. Those starts didn’t exactly come against offensive juggernauts, as three of the four were against the Reds, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks. Bumgarner came back rejuvenated to open the second half for the Giants with a strong six-inning, one-run performance against the Marlins. On the whole, Bumgarner has had a spectacular season with an increased strikeout rate and a solid 3.38 ERA.
This has a good chance of being A.J. Burnett’s last start for the Phillies. There are some interested teams, even though Burnett is pitching with a sports hernia and also has a player option for 2015, which he’ll undoubtedly pick up if sent to the right team. The player option is $7.5M with two signing bonus installments worth $6M and there are incentives based on starts made in 2014 to inflate the contract. Will the distraction be an issue for Burnett?
Burnett has not been as dominant as he had been the previous two years. His ground ball rate is down, his strikeout rate is down, and he’s lost a full mile per hour of average fastball velocity. Considering that Burnett is now on the wrong side of 37, none of these are surprising developments. This season, Burnett has a 4.08 ERA and he has a 4.91 ERA since the start of May. He gave up six runs in five innings in his first start after the All-Star Break against Atlanta with Pittsburgh scouts in attendance.
The Giants are 12-9 in Bumgarner’s 21 starts, but they face some heavy chalk when he starts, so the profit is just over half a unit. The Phillies are 10-11 in Burnett’s 21 starts for a profit of 0.9 units. The Giants are 38-29, the second-best mark in the National League, against right-handed starters, while the Phillies are 10-12 against left-handed starters.
Pick: San Francisco
Tuesday night’s loss marked the latest devastating defeat in a season filled with bullpen struggles and frustration for the Phillies. The Giants are playing some terrific ball right now, winners of four out of five since the All-Star Break and six of their last nine overall. Burnett, who has been linked to his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, over the last few days, may have one foot out the door to escape what is probably a toxic situation in Philadelphia. Bumgarner is posting some of the best numbers in his career and should give the Giants the length that they need after Tuesday night’s marathon game.