Zach Eflin (0-1, 5.14 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (1-0, 2.35 ERA)
The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves will get the Sunday Night Baseball slot to close out the day. They got into an entertaining contest on Saturday, with the Braves scoring a total of 6 runs from the 7th to 9th inning to complete a four-run comeback over the Phillies. The Phillies managed to tie the game up in the top of the 9th, but the bullpen failed them again, as the Braves got that run right back to take a 6-5 win.
The bullpen has been an area of concern for the Phillies in 2020, and they showed up to ruin the party once again on Saturday. Brandon Workman takes the loss for Philadelphia in that one. That’s another loss people can’t blame Bryce Harper on. Harper has been the best performing Phillie this season. He looks motivated to prove his doubters wrong.
The Bryce bashing has been quiet on social media lately. Harper went 1-for-2 on Saturday with 3 RBI, including a 2-run HR, to lead the Phillies. Overall in 2020, Harper is hitting .343 with a .487 OBP and 7 home runs. The Phillies are only 9-14 and dead last in the NL East. In other words, something is going wrong and Harper can’t be the one blamed for it.
If people want to criticize the Philadelphia bullpen then that’s fine, but the blame can’t be levied against Bryce this time. There is still time for the Phillies to turn things around and get into the postseason. It’s an expanded postseason after all, and they’re still within striking distance of the Braves to win the NL East.
The Phillies head into Sunday behind the Braves by five games. As a result of the coronavirus, the Phillies have several games to make up, so they could mount a comeback in a hurry. If the bullpen doesn’t figure things out, though, that is just a pipedream for Phillies’ fans. Zach Eflin will take to the bump for the Phillies, while former Indian, Josh Tomlin, is expected to get the ball for the Braves. Head below for our free Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves pick for August 23, 2020.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves MLB Betting Odds:
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Prediction:
Again, Bryce Harper cannot be blamed for the Phillies’ failures this season. He leads the majors in OPS with a 1.192, which is the highest in the National League since Barry Bonds in 2004. However, blame can squarely go on the bullpen. Relievers are easy targets to blame, like kickers in the NFL, but in the case of the Phillies, it’s justified.
They are dead last in the majors by a large margin with an ERA of 8.33, which would go down as the worst in history. There isn’t a team in the league that could win with those kinds of numbers. The offense is fourth in the majors with 5.35 runs per game, so there is some good news.
The Phillies hope that Zach Eflin can go deep in this one. They don’t want to rely on the bullpen too early on Sunday night. However, Eflin can’t be counted on to give 7 innings on the hill. He owns an ERA of 5.14 and 1.50 WHIP in 2020. After a promising debut on August 6 against the dangerous New York Yankees, Eflin has gotten tagged for 4 earned runs against the Orioles and Red Sox.
He completed 6 innings on August 12 versus the Orioles, but only 4 innings in his other two starts. With a shaky Phillies’ bullpen waiting in the wings, it’s probably going to be another one of those nights. The Braves have had solid power numbers versus Eflin in his career, with 7 home runs and 17 runs scored in 74 at-bats. Fortunately, Josh Tomlin is more hittable than his numbers indicate in the 2020 campaign.
Tomlin has spent ten years in the majors, eight of which were with the Indians. He’s been mediocre with a career ERA of 4.65 and 1.22 WHIP. The Braves discovered in 2019 that Tomlin is probably better used as a reliever instead of a starter. He had one of the best years of his career, as Tomlin notched a 3.74 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 51 games. That’s his best full season in the majors, which came after being moved to the bullpen.
He’s appeared in eight games as a reliever this season and has been effective. In his first start on August 18, Tomlin gave up 6 hits and 2 earned runs in 4.2 innings. The Braves lost 8-5 to the Nationals in that outing. He held up well enough in that game, but I don’t believe his 2.35 ERA is indicative of how Tomlin is as a starter. There is some solid value to be had on the OVER. I don’t understand the current price, but I will take it while it’s still there.