One late game is on the betting board for tonight in Major League Baseball and it will be the game on ESPN between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. After last night’s roller coaster, we’ll have to see how both teams respond. The line is pretty even both ways, though the Phillies are taking a little bit of money and have been listed as a -115 favorite at Bovada Sportsbook with a total that has been bet down to 7.5.
Let’s take a look at this one and see how it could play out.
Nobody seems to want to take charge in the NL East. The Phillies are tied for first with the Mets at 18-16. New York is 15-13 after having some games postponed early due to COVID-19. Every team in the division has at least 13 wins, which is actually the case in four of the six divisions. The suppressed offensive environment and deadened baseball have brought a lot of parity into the league.
The Phillies will have to have a short memory to shake off last night’s game. After blowing a two-run lead in the ninth, the Phillies scored in the 11th to take the lead, only to blow that one as well. After scoring three runs in the 12th, the Phillies turned to recently recalled reliever Enyel De Los Santos. It didn’t work out, as he faced three batters, recorded zero outs, and Matt Moore gave up the game-winning hit for an 8-7 loss.
It was also a hideous beat for under bettors, but the big story is that the Phillies bullpen showed shades of 2020 in the losing effort to spoil a good start from Vince Velasquez. They say that momentum is tomorrow’s starting pitcher. If that’s the case, the Phillies should be in good hands with Aaron Nola on the bump.
Nola has a 2.89 ERA with a 2.44 FIP in his 43.2 innings of work thus far. He’s got tremendous stats across the board with 49 strikeouts against just seven walks. He’s only allowed three home runs and just 36 hits over his seven starts. Perhaps most importantly, he’s averaged over six innings per start, which will hopefully keep the bullpen from having to do too much if you want to bet on the Phillies tonight.
Philadelphia’s offense scoring seven runs is a bit of a rarity and squandering that is a real bummer, seeing as how the Phillies rank 21st in wOBA this season. They’ve struck out in nearly 28% of their plate appearances and struck out 14 more times last night.
Huascar Ynoa has 38 K in 34.1 innings of work, so he’ll be looking for punchies against the Phillies lineup. Based on what we’ve seen so far, he should be able to get some of them. Ynoa doesn’t have to rely on the strikeout, though. He’s only allowed 23 hits in his 34.1 innings of work. The problem for him is that five of them have been home runs, but he’s still got a 2.36 ERA with a 3.48 FIP.
Ynoa is basically a two-pitch pitcher, as over 94% of his pitches are fastballs or sliders. It does leave me concerned when he faces a team for the second time and would help explain his Hard Hit%, which sits north of 50%. The Phillies only saw him for one inning on April 3 before Ynoa became a full-time starter on April 7. He has already faced the Cubs and Nationals twice and pitched well in the second outing both times.
The biggest story for the Braves in this one is the status of Ronald Acuna Jr. Their star MVP candidate was hit by a pitch on the hand and in severe pain. Initial x-rays were negative, but there are a lot of small bones in that pinky finger, so follow-up examinations may reveal something more when the swelling goes down. Either way, it seems unlikely that Acuna will be in the lineup for this one.
The Braves have a top-10 offense by wOBA, as they rank ninth in that department at .317, but are just slightly below league average in wRC+. In their defense, there are some teams up at the top like Boston and the LA teams that are skewing league average a little bit by defying the baseball.
A big reason why Atlanta has struggled to this point has been the bullpen. It wasn’t great last night with those four runs allowed in extra innings. We’ll see if they can right the ship anytime soon here. There is too much talent for the relief corps to be posting a league average FIP at 4.18 and a 4.56 ERA.
Phillies vs. Braves Free Pick
We understandably have a total of 7.5 here with Nola and Ynoa and the likely absence of Acuna, but it is extremely hard to bet an under with a total like that in an Atlanta game. It also feels like we’ve seen a lot more offense in the month of May. It may be easier to flip a coin and find a side for this game. Fading Nola seems unwise, especially if he won’t have to face Acuna. Therefore, I agree with the slight line movement on the side of the road favorite.
Pick: Philadelphia Phillies