Philadelphia Phillies (78-72) at Atlanta Braves (93-60)
MLB: Thursday, September 19th, 2019 at 12:10 pm ET (SunTrust Park)
Line and Odds: Atlanta Braves -154/Philadelphia Phillies +139 Over/Under: 8
Free ESPN MLB Picks Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are currently fighting for their playoff lives. The Phillies are 78-72, 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East with just 12 games left in their season. However, there’s still hope that they can get one of the two NL Wild Card spots. Philadelphia is 4.5 games back of the top Wild Card spot currently held by the Washington Nationals. They are 3 games behind the Brewers and Cubs who are tied atop the race for the #2 Wild Card spot. The New York Mets are 3 games back along with the Phillies. Baseball Reference gives Philadelphia a 1.1% chance of making the playoffs, while ESPN gives them a 1.5% chance. Their odds are slim, but they are still in the race.
Philadelphia has a winning record, but they actually have slightly negative run differential. The Phillies rank 16th in run differential having scored 3 fewer runs than they have allowed this season. They average 4.85 runs per game, ranking 14th in runs scored. Philadelphia ranks 17th in total bases per game, averaging 14.71 total bases per outing. They have an on base plus slugging percentage of .750, which ranks 19th in the MLB. Philadelphia ranks 17th in slugging percentage (.428) and isolated power (.181). Phillies batters rank 20th in both batting average and batting average on balls in play. They hit for an average of .247 and a BABIP of .294. Philadelphia’s lineup also ranks 20th in home run percentage, hitting home runs on 3.4% of their plate appearances. Despite this, they rank 11th in extra base hit percentage. This is because of their high propensity for hitting doubles (1.91 doubles per game, 6th in the MLB).
The Phillies give up 4.87 runs per game, ranking 17th in runs allowed. They rank 21st in OPS against, allowing teams an OPS of .786. They rank 22nd with an on base percentage against of .333. Phillies pitchers have a tough time dealing with their opponents’ power hitting. They rank 27th in home run percentage against, giving up home runs on 4.1% of their opponents’ plate appearances. Philadelphia ranks 22nd with an isolated power against of .192. Philadelphia’s pitching staff ranks 21st in WHIP (1.377). Philadelphia will send out Aaron Nola as their starting pitcher, today. The 26-year-old right-hander has a 12-5 record on 32 starts and 191 and 2/3 innings pitched. Nola has a 3.62 ERA, 1.231 WHIP, and 2.92 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has given up 7.6 hits, 1.1 home runs, and 3.80 runs per 9 innings, this season. While he isn’t a Cy Young contender like he was last season, Nola has had a very productive year.
It’s difficult to figure out if the Atlanta Braves feel an urgent need to play well during the final 9 games of their regular season. Atlanta’s 93-60 record has already clinched them a spot in this year’s postseason. They are 9 games ahead of the 2nd-place Washington Nationals in the NL East with 9 games left in the season. Atlanta should be able to clinch the NL East within the few days. If the season ended today, they would be the #2 seed in the NL playoffs. They are 5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers from the #1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Braves still have a mathematical chance at the #1 seed, but it is unlikely that they’d be able to catch up to the Dodgers. So the goals of the Braves are fairly mixed as we near the end of the regular season. They want to clinch the NL East, challenge the Dodgers for the #1 spot, build momentum for the playoffs, remain healthy, and get their pitching rotations in order. Atlanta currently has the 2nd best odds to win the NL pennant at +345.
Atlanta has a run differential of +102, the 10th-highest margin in the MLB. They rank 6th in runs scored, averaging 5.30 runs per game. The Braves also rank 8th in slugging percentage, 7th in on base percentage, and 7th in on base plus slugging percentage. The Braves offense ranks in the top 10 of nearly every major offensive category. They draw walks on 9.8% of their plate appearances, ranking 3rd in walk percentage. They hit home runs on 4.0% of their plate appearances, ranking 10th in home run rate. The Braves rank 9th with an 8.9% extra base hit %. Atlanta ranks 8th in batting average and isolated power. They also rank 8th in batting average on balls in play, with a BABIP of .306.
The Braves rank 12th in runs allowed, giving up 4.63 runs per game. They rank 14th in on base plus slugging percentage against, allowing an OPS of .751. Atlanta’s pitchers and fielders are solid when it comes to limiting opponents’ power. They rank 11th in slugging percentage against (.420) and 7th in isolated power against (.165). Braves pitchers allow opponents to hit home runs on 3.3% of their plate appearances, ranking 9th in home run % against. They rank 2nd in extra base hit % against, allowing batters to hit extra base hits on 7.7% of their plate appearances. However, Atlanta struggles with letting opponents get on base. Braves pitchers rank 18th in WHIP (1.368) and 21st in on base % against (.330). Atlanta’s defense ranks 19th in batting average against (.256) and 20th in BABIP against (.304). Atlanta ace Mike Soroka will make today’s start on the mound against the Phillies. The 21-year-old all-star has been stellar this season. He has gone 12-4 in 27 starts and 164 and 2/3 innings pitched. He has a 2.57 ERA, 1.093 WHIP, and 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Soroka has allowed just 7.7 hits, 0.7 home runs, and 2.79 runs per 9 innings, this season.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Philadelphia’s last 6 games.
Philadelphia is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games against Atlanta.
Philadelphia is 4-1 SU in their last 5 games on the road.
Atlanta is 13-6 SU in their last 19 games.
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Atlanta’s last 9 games at home.
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Atlanta’s last 5 games when playing at home against Philadelphia
ESPN MLB Scores Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
I’m taking the Philadelphia Phillies at +139. I am surprised to see how similar this line is to yesterday’s Phillies vs. Braves odds. Philadelphia closed as a +144 underdog in yesterday’s matchup, even though they were at a significant pitching disadvantage. I believe the starting pitcher battle in this game is much closer because both teams’ aces will be on the mound today. Soroka is Atlanta’s best pitcher, but Nola gives the Phillies a greater premium over the other Phillies’ starters. Throughout the series, I’ve underestimated the gap in desperation between the Braves and Phillies. Philadelphia is playing some great baseball because they know they have to. Their season will come to an unceremonious end if they can’t catch up to the Wild Card teams. On the other hand, the Braves appear to be powering down. They don’t have as much to play for because it is unlikely they will be anything other than the #2 team in the NL postseason. I see why the Atlanta Braves are favored, but I believe that the line is too big. The value is on the Phillies.