My yearlong battle with mother nature played out again last night, and once again I came up short. We backed the Pittsburgh Pirates as home underdogs against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates had been red-hot, and I liked their chances to play spoiler in this one as the Brewers were trying to close the gap on the Chicago Cubs in the Central Division race and badly needed the win. I liked our side of the starting pitching matchup as Ivan Nova had been pitching great and Jhoulys Chacin had been shaky, so I fired on the home dogs.
And until mother nature decided to send the game into a rain delay in the fourth inning, everything was going according to plan. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-1 lead and Chacin was really struggling for Milwaukee. The game then went into a multi-hour rain delay that saw both starters get pulled from the game, and that completely changed the dynamic of this game. After the rain stopped, the Brewers came roaring back and put the game away with a six-run sixth inning.
In the end, the Brewers took the game 8-3, and we lost our bet. Clearly, it is anecdotal and nothing you can ever handicap for, but it seems like every time we get rained delayed this year, we end up losing our bet. I backed the Pirates largely on the back of Ivan Nova, and he was cruising with just forty-six pitches thrown when the rain forced him from the game. What can you do, rant over, you win mother nature, again. Today we get right back after it as we look at the game between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Atlanta Braves will look to clinch the National League East Division title tonight as they host the Philadelphia Phillies in game three of a four-game set. With a magic number of just two, the Braves can lock the division up by beating the second-place Phillies tonight at home. The Phillies came into this series needing the sweep to keep their playoff hopes alive, and instead, they have lost the first two games of the set, and their fate is now just a foregone conclusion.
Starting for the Phillies tonight, looking to extend their season is Jake Arrieta (10-9 3.77 ERA), and for the Braves it is Mike Foltynewicz (11-10 2.90 ERA). The Braves are -147 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 AM PST from SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
It wasn’t long ago that this division looked like it would come down to the wire this season. Then the Washington Nationals decided to blow things up with a mid-season rebuild, and the Philadelphia Phillies just fell off a cliff. The Braves haven’t been playing all that well either as of late, but with the rest of their division really struggling, they are poised to lock up the division title tonight at home.
Atlanta will turn to first time All-Star Mike Foltynewicz tonight to wrap things up. Foltynewicz has been pitching mostly great this season, with the occasional blowup game mixed in. He got hammered in his last start for six runs in just four and two-thirds of an inning pitched. But before that, he had allowed one run or fewer in six of his last seven starts.
This will be the fourth start of the season for Foltynewicz against these Phillies, although it is his first against them since May. Against Philly this season, Foltynewicz has been very good as he has pitched a combined seventeen innings and has allowed just four earned runs.
Jake Arrieta was supposed to be the savior in Philadelphia this season. They brought in the recent Cy Young Award winner as a big-time free agent signing that signaled they were ready to win now. And in the beginning, it looked like that’s exactly what these Phillies were going to do with Arrieta as their ace. Through May, Arrieta was 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA, and the Phillies were looking like a playoff team.
But things have turned sour for both Arrieta and the Phillies down the stretch. Arrieta is just 1-3 in August and September with an ERA north of five runs. In his last seven starts, Arrieta has pitched a total of thirty-seven and a third innings of work and has given up twenty-five runs, and the Phillies have gone 2-5.
I like Jake Arrieta, and I don’t think he is nearly as bad as he is showing right now. But if there were ever a time to fade him, it would be here. He is struggling, and his team is really having trouble scoring him run support as well. That is a bad combo that has led to a lot of losing recently. Throw in the fact that Atlanta has a chance to wrap up the division title tonight at home, and I don’t see any way that the Braves let that opportunity pass them by.
The Phillies will start Aaron Nola in tomorrow’s game, and the Braves know that tonight is the night to lock things up as they don’t want to give Nola the chance to extend the season even further. I expect Atlanta to pull out all the stops tonight and get the job done and take home their division crown. Give me the Atlanta Braves as home favorites tonight in game three!