The Philadelphia Phillies have been a disappointment so far this season, but they remain in striking distance of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. They open a weekend series Friday in the City of Brotherly Love with the Phils to be MLB betting favorites.
How to Bet Braves at Phillies MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Friday, 7:05 PM ET
- Where: Citizens Bank Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): TBD/Zack Wheeler
- TV: MLB Network, MLB Extra Innings
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Atlanta?
This is already the last series of the season between these division rivals. Atlanta leads 4-3. The Braves dropped the season set to the Phillies last season for just the second time in eight seasons since 2012: They went 6-13 against Philadelphia in 2017.
The Braves are in a very unusual situation as they find themselves comfortably atop the NL East despite a ton of injuries, poor production from several hitters, and a starting rotation that is in shambles.
Atlanta activated young superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna off the injured list Tuesday. The team also activated outfielder Nick Markakis from the COVID-19 injured list. Markakis was placed on the list a week ago for precautionary reasons after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.
Second baseman Ozzie Albies took batting practice from both sides of the plate Tuesday and felt good. The Braves will see how he recovers before deciding on the next step. Albies has been out since August 5 with a bone contusion in his right wrist but could be back by this weekend. Albies hit .159 with a .468 OPS over the 11 games he played before being shut down. The switch-hitter showed how much his wrist was bothering him on Aug. 4, when he batted from the left side of the plate against Blue Jays left-handed reliever Anthony Kay.
Braves manager Brian Snitker has not decided on his starter for Friday. Because the team had a game rained out Tuesday and then played a doubleheader on Wednesday vs. the Yankees. It won’t be top prospect Ian Anderson or ace Max Fried as they pitched Wednesday. Robbie Erlin and Josh Tomlin are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Mike Soroka is out for the season and Cole Hamels is yet to pitch and is on the injured list. Thus, the Braves may call someone up or go with a bullpen game Friday.
Why Bet on Philadelphia?
The Phillies recently made a trade to boost their playoff prospects, landing relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree from the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold. Workman had 16 saves for the Red Sox last season and struck out 13.1 batters per nine innings while going 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 73 games.
Workman, 32, had appeared in seven games for the Red Sox this season, recording four saves in four opportunities while posting a 4.05 ERA with eight strikeouts. He likely will close for the Phillies as well. That would allow Joe Girardi to slide Hector Neris into a setup role. Hembree made 11 relief appearances in 2020 for Boston, posting a 1.86 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 9.2 innings over his first 10 of those 11 outings.
Philadelphia has had one of the worst bullpens in the majors this year and recently lost Jose Alvarez for up to a month. Alvarez suffered a testicular contusion when he was hit by a comebacker last Thursday. His absence is likely to stretch into early-to-mid September. The left-hander was off to an excellent start, having allowed just one run in his first 6 1/3 innings.
Philly also is without outfielder/DH Jay Bruce as he’s on the injured list with a quad injury. The 33-year-old is hitting .231/.273/.596 in 16 games this year.
It’s expected to be Zack Wheeler (3-0, 2.76) on the mound. Wheeler struck out a season-high eight batters while holding the Braves to two runs over seven frames last Saturday in a no-decision. The eight punchouts were encouraging as Wheeler entered with just 12 on the season.
Wheeler held the Braves off the scoreboard in the first six frames before Austin Riley took him deep with a two-run shot in the seventh. Wheeler missed out on a win when the Phillies’ bullpen had another meltdown. He has gone seven innings in two straight starts and topped the 100-pitch mark (throwing 105) in this one for the first time. The right-hander was sharp, throwing 71 of 105 pitches for strikes.
Wheeler also has the highest WAR on the team so far at 1.6. The strangest thing is while his walks per nine (1.7) are the lowest of his career, so are his strikeouts per nine (5.5).
Wheeler’s strikeout percentage sits at 15.7%, a far cry from the 23.1% he had in 2019. The main thing that’s changed for Wheeler this year is that he isn’t getting hitters to swing and miss as much as he did in the past on the fastball. Wheeler is also throwing much lower in the zone.
Phillies 5, Braves 2
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