My strategy of betting against the Philadelphia Phillies every day for the past week has really started to pay dividends. I bet against Philly in every game of their recent series against the Colorado Rockies, and the Rockies blew them out in each game and swept them. I followed that trend yesterday as the Phillies played host to an Atlanta Braves team that was fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs, and once again, Philly didn’t let me down.
I loved our side of the starting pitching matchup as Mike Foltynewicz has really turned it on down the stretch for the Braves and the Phillies were starting a guy that hasn’t made a start all season long. It sure seemed like free money at the time, and after watching the game, that is exactly what it was. Atlanta pounded the Phillies to the tune of a 10-2 final score.
Foltynewicz allowed just one run on only one hit in five innings, and the Braves pummeled this defeated Philadelphia squad. The Phillies have now lost nine straight games, five of those of which have come against this Braves team. For today’s pick, I will stay right here in Philly and take a look at game two between the Phillies and the Braves.
The Atlanta Braves are in Philadelphia Saturday trying to lock up home-field advantage in the National League playoffs first round. Right now, the Braves have the identical record as the Colorado Rockies for home field advantage, and they are hoping to close out the last two games of the season with wins here in Philly, to lock up home field.
Starting tonight for the Phillies is their ace Aaron Nola (16-6 2.45 ERA), and for the Braves it is Anibal Sanchez (7-6 2.96 ERA). The Phillies are -146 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from Citizens Bank Ballpark.
I’m not sure I ever remember a team giving up like this to end a baseball season. Not a team that was in first place in August at least. This was a playoff caliber squad that has just completely quit on the season, two weeks early. This team isn’t just losing, they are getting blown out. Seven of these recent nine losses are by multiple runs, and in their last five games specifically, it has gotten really ugly, as they have lost by an average of eight runs a game.
We will see if the Phillies have any pride at all left in them tonight as they send their young ace, Aaron Nola, to the mound in an attempt to save face to close out the season. Nola has been really, really good this season. Most year’s this level of performance would be plenty for the Cy Young Award. Unfortunately this year Jacob deGrom decided to look like Sandy Koufax, so he will likely get his fair share of votes, but come up short of taking the award home.
Nola has however looked somewhat human here in September. He finished up August with a 1.06 ERA in five starts that ran his season ERA all the way down to just 2.10. But in September he is just 1-3 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts. That includes losing his last start to these Atlanta Braves when he pitched six innings and allowed two runs and the Phillies couldn’t support him and he was a hard luck loser. Will the Phillies be able to close out his season on a high note against these surging Braves?
Atlanta will start Anibal Sanchez tonight in this key game. Sanchez has been great for the Braves all season long. He missed over a month earlier in the season with an injury but since returning has been nothing but solid for Atlanta. Sanchez has a sub-three ERA in August and September and has allowed one run or fewer in six of those ten starts. In his last start against the Phillies, he pitched five innings, allowed just one run and picked up the win for his efforts.
I love Aaron Nola. I have backed him all season long, and he has made me a ton of money. But I don’t care who is on the mound tonight for Philly, they shouldn’t be big favorites in this spot. The Braves are steaming hot and playing for a lot in this one. While the Phillies have been an embarrassment the last two weeks.
I see this as just another case of the books and the public putting too much emphasis on the starting pitching matchup. Of course, Aaron Nola is great, but do you really think the Phillies are going to ask him to go out there and throw 110 pitches in a game that doesn’t matter? If they do, they are insane. Nola will throw five innings, six innings max, and the Phillies are going to find a way to lose this game.
I hate to bet against my boy, but a bad number is a bad number. I see the Braves finding a way to win this game late and keeping the heat on the Rockies for home-field advantage. Give me the Atlanta Braves as big road underdogs tonight in game two from Philadelphia at +136!