Before I get into the Phillies and Nationals and my pick for this four-game set, I’ll quickly recap a couple of picks that either concluded late last week or on the weekend.
Unfortunately, the Tigers dropped Thursday’s rubber match with the Royals and we lost our pick of the Tigers at +135. After the two clubs split the first two games, I felt really good about the value we had with ace Matthew Boyd toeing the rubber for the series finale.
It wasn’t meant to be, however, as the Royals got to Boyd early as they scored four runs against him in just four innings before getting to the Tigers’ bullpen for three more in a 7-3 series finale win.
I had another pick going in a four-game set between the Cardinals and Mets with the Cardinals listed as +140 underdogs in that series. It was risky as the Mets were rolling out their best four starters for that series, however, we prevailed at wonderful odds.
The first game of the series was actually suspended with the game tied at 4-4 in the ninth, and the Cardinals would go on to win the game in 10 innings on Friday. They would actually win the originally scheduled game for Friday night as well thanks to getting to reliever Jeurys Familia for four earned runs after getting three off of starter Steven Matz.
Game three went to the Mets, but neither starter was any good as both Noah Syndergaard and Michael Wacha allowed four earned runs apiece.
However, we would win the series on Sunday thanks to a go-ahead eighth-inning home run from Paul DeJong that would prove to be the decisive blow in a 4-3 win.
I am thrilled to hit yet another winner at steep odds and I’ll continue to look for a similar value in these picks moving forward throughout the year.
Now, let’s have a look at the odds for this four-game set between the Phillies and Nationals, courtesy of BetOnline.
Phillies vs. Nationals MLB Series Odds
Now let’s have a look at the probable pitching matchups as well, courtesy of MLB.com.
- Monday: Arrieta (PHI) vs. Corbin (WSH)
- Tuesday: Eflin (PHI) vs. Fedde (WSH)
- Wednesday: Pivetta (PHI) vs. Scherzer (WSH)
- Thursday: Nola (PHI) vs. Strasburg (WSH)
Now let’s break down these pitching matchups before getting into some notes on the offenses, bullpens and our final pick!
Monday: Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.31 ERA) vs. Corbin (5-5, 4.11 ERA)
Things got off to a fine start this season for Arrieta, however, he hasn’t fared well over his last nine starts.
In that time, Arrieta has posted a 5.40 ERA, however, he did have one start against these Nationals in that span and pitched six innings of two-run ball with seven strikeouts as part of a no-decision.
At the end of the day, I’m looking at his home/road splits as a fairly even. He owns a 4.09 ERA at home, but a 4.54 ERA on the road. That said, he also owns a 4.55 FIP at home and an ugly 5.56 mark on the road. However, his xFIP drops all the way to 4.06 on the road from 4.90 at home.
He’s allowed 2.16 HR/9 on the road this season, but that number will come down along with his road 28.6% HR/FB rate, a massive number. He’s generating significantly more strikeouts on the road than at home with an 8.21 K/9 on the road compared to a 6.55 mark at home, and he’s issuing free passes at just a 3.02 BB/9 rate on the road compared to a very elevated 4.50 mark at home.
He did pitch a quality start his last time out but has allowed 10 earned runs in just 9.2 innings across his last two starts on the road.
Like Arrieta, Corbin hasn’t been the most reliable arm around these days.
The Nationals are paying him a lot of money and it’s fairly safe to say that they haven’t received much value on that investment to this point.
That said, there is a big gap in his home/road splits and it is favoring the home side where he will be making his start on Monday night. At home, Corbin’s pitched to a 2.32 ERA, 2.46 FIP, and 3.43 xFIP. On the road, he owns a 5.91 ERA, 5.34 FIP, and 4.60 xFIP.
That said, he’s been hit hard over the last three starts. In that time, he’s allowed 16 earned runs on 22 hits in just 12.2 innings. That’s good for an 11.80 ERA while he’s allowed four homers and seven walks in that time as well.
I’ll give the advantage to Corbin here in large part to his work at home, but given his recent results, I’m thinking it’s nothing more than a slight advantage.
Advantage: Slight to Washington
Tuesday: Zach Eflin (6-6, 2.81 ERA) vs. Erick Fedde (1-1, 3.68 ERA)
This one is a battle of two pitchers showing some regression moving forward, but there’s little doubt Eflin has been the most reliable starter in the Phillies’ rotation this season.
On top of the lovely 2.81 ERA figure, Eflin owns a 4.15 FIP and 4.70 xFIP as well to go along with an uninspiring 7.43 K/9 clip. He’s managed to keep walks to a minimum with a healthy 2.14 BB/9 rate, but the home run number is elevated at 1.24 HR/9 despite a very normal 11.3% HR/FB clip.
Like most pitchers, Eflin’s results haven’t been as good on the road as they’ve been at home. His road numbers spell notable regression as his 3.58 road ERA is well under his 4.91 FIP and 4.80 xFIP on the road as well. Strikeouts are roughly the same, but he’s allowing more walks and home runs on the road while his hard-hit rate of 42.5% on the road is miles above the elite 26.5% mark he owns at home.
He’s pitched to a 1.98 ERA over his last three road starts. Furthermore, he’s faced this Washington team twice this season and owns a 0.75 ERA with 14 strikeouts over 12 innings pitched. He threw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts in his first start of the season, which came on the road against Washington.
Fedde’s peripherals are also showing some regression as he owns that solid 3.68 ERA figure, but also a 5.12 FIP and 5.19 xFIP. He’s striking out essentially no one as he has posted a tiny 5.15 K/9 on the season while his walk rate is a little elevated at 3.44 BB/9.
Fedde’s regression kicked in in his most recent start which came at home against the Diamondbacks. In said outing, he yielded five earned runs on two homers and three walks with just one strikeout in six innings. He took the loss in that one.
He owns a 4.12 ERA at home, but also a 5.12 FIP and 5.10 xFIP while striking out just over five batters per nine at Nationals Park.
He’s yet to face the Phillies in the five starts and 10 appearances in the big leagues this season.
It’s not a tough decision here to give the advantage to Eflin give his consistent results this season.
Wednesday: Nick Pivetta (4-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (5-5 2.81 ERA)
Pivetta’s start to the season was so bad that he was demoted to the minors for more than five weeks, but since his return, he’s pitched quite well.
At the time of his demotion, Pivetta owned an 8.45 ERA across four starts. Since then, he’s put together a 2.75 ERA across four starts. In one of those outings, he pitched six shutout innings with nine strikeouts at Dodger Stadium before hurling a complete game while allowing just one earned run with zero walks and six strikeouts in a win over the Reds.
The strikeouts haven’t been nearly has high this season as last as he owns an 8.60 K/9 on the season compared to a 10.32 mark last year, however, he did put together a massive 12.16 K/9 clip in his six minor league starts this season to go along with his 3.41 ERA and 3.31 FIP.
As a result, Pivetta has pitched very well for some time now. He deserved a much better fate than his 4.77 ERA he posted in 2018 as he also posted a 3.80 FIP and 3.42 xFIP.
He’s deserving of some improved luck and combined with pitching much better lately it looks like he could be a valued piece of the Phillies’ rotation moving forward.
Scherzer has been un-human again this season and just filthy as of late. He allowed two solo home runs in his last start, but that’s all the damage the D-backs got as he spun seven frames of two-run ball with 10 strikeouts.
He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs over his last five starts and owns a 1.06 ERA over that span.
If his 2.81 ERA on the season weren’t enough, the guy also owns a tiny 2.28 FIP and 2.96 xFIP. His K/9 is once again insane at 12.32 while he’s issuing free passes at an elite 1.81 BB/9 clip.
I’m not sure about you, but Scherzer is going to get my advantage in every single game he starts from here on out.
Thursday: Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.89 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (7-4, 3.75 ERA)
Nola got off to a rocky start this season from the get-go, however his work has been much better since the end of April despite some rocky starts in two of his last three.
Unfortunately, both of those rocky starts came on the road where he allowed a combined 11 earned runs at San Diego and Atlanta across just 9.2 innings of work.
However, Nola was roughed up for a 5.68 ERA in the months of March/April but rebounded with a 2,.73 ERA in the month of May. He’s endured a rough beginning to the month of June in three starts. But his 4.53 FIP and 3.92 xFIP point towards improved fortune moving forward, especially in the home run department where he owns a huge 21% HR/FB rate compared to his 13.4% career mark.
His strikeouts are actually up from his Cy Young-caliber season from last year with an even 10.00 K/9 on the season, but walks have been a big problem with an even 4.00 BB/9 rate as well. The hard-hit rate against is up almost 13% from last season, which is a big concern itself, but the fly-ball rate is tiny at 27.3%, so his home runs against are sure to come down.
Nola has been roughed up by the Nationals this season to the tune of a 9.89 ERA across two starts and just 9.1 innings.
Strasburg, on the other hand, has been very good and actually deserves better.
He has pitched to a 3.75 ERA on the season, but also a 3.29 FIP and 3.11 xFIP to go along with a huge 10.78 K/9 clip.
His work at home hasn’t been nearly as good. He’s pitched to a big 4.74 ERA at home this season compared to a stout 2.92 ERA on the road. His home FIP sits at an elevated 4.47 while his road FIP sits at just 2.30. HIs home xFIP does come down to 3.13, very similar to his 3.10 mark on the road.
Still, Strasburg was lit up for six earned runs in his last start, which came at home where he allowed six earned runs in just five innings while allowing four home runs and a walk along with nine hits in that time.
If you want to go one more home start back, he’s pitched to a 9.90 ERA over his last two starts at home.
The advantage here will go to Strasburg, but again, it’s nothing more than slight in my opinion with his work at home and his recent results to boot.
Advantage: Slight to the Nationals
Phillies vs. Nationals MLB Series Pick
Yes, the Phillies face the three-headed monster in the Nationals rotation in this series, but to be completely honest, Scherzer is the only one I am concerned with.
However, let’s make note of one thing here. The Nationals are just 5-10 in the 15 games started by Scherzer this season. Why? Because the Nationals’ bullpen has pitched to a league-worst 6.27 ERA on the season. Their 4.81 FIP suggest positive regression, but that mark still ranks 23rd in the bigs.
To me, the offenses are a wash. The Nationals rank 15th with a .322 wOBA on the season, but the Phillies aren’t too far behind at 18th with a .314 mark. It’s all right-handed starters in this series, and these two clubs are about dead even as the Nationals have a minuscule edge with a .311 wOBA against righties compared to a .310 mark on behalf of the Phillies.
The Phillies haven’t had much better luck in the bullpen either with a 4.62 ERA, good for 18th. Their 4.87 bullpen FIP is actually worse than that of the Nationals.
However, in terms of result, the Nationals bullpen as been the worst in the business.
I don’t think the starting pitching matchups are all that advantageous to Washington, at least not as much as it would appear on the surface.
I will take my chances with the Phillies as huge dogs, and as the better team to this point, to pull the upset and take down this four-game set from Washington.