Lots of baseball games are on the betting board today, as we see some pretty interesting pitching matchups and several games with reasonable lines. The days of the big favorite seem to have gone by the wayside this season, as a lot of games have had more competitive lines in the year of the underdog.
One game with a competitive line takes place in Philly, where the Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies get together for an NL East showdown. The Phillies are favored in the -125 range with a total of 8 per the folks at one of the biggest sportsbook Bovada.
Let’s break down the game and attempt to find a good side or total angle.
Trevor Rogers is the clear starting point for this handicap. The Marlins left-hander brings a strong 1.84 ERA with a 2.43 FIP into this one over 44 innings of work covering eight starts. Rogers worked 28 innings with seven starts last season and had a 6.11 ERA, but his 4.33 FIP and 3.67 xFIP both suggested that he was unlucky.
The numbers bear that out this season, as he’s done a masterful job getting back to limiting home runs. His 20.8% HR/FB% with five homers allowed in seven starts was a big part of last season’s high ERA, not to mention the .380 BABIP against and the 67.5% LOB%. This season, Rogers has an 84.4% LOB% with a .289 BABIP against and has cut his HR/FB% down to 4.9% with just two home runs allowed.
Rogers has been more of a fly ball pitcher this season. Last year, his ground ball rate was 47.4%. This season, it is just 33.7%. Given how the baseball is playing this season in Florida, that isn’t a bad decision at all. He’s thrown more fastballs, fewer sliders, and a few more changeups this season. You usually don’t see 63% fastball guys with high K% marks, but Rogers commands it well with premier velocity and hitters have a 15.4% SwStr%.
The question for Rogers and his rotation mates is always about the run support. The Marlins have a strong bullpen overall, but their offense is among the weakest in the league, ranking in the bottom five in wOBA, BB%, and just outside the bottom five in SLG.
The Marlins have a run differential of 0, but are five games under .500. Alternate standings metrics show a team that should be 21-21 or 20-21, but the lack of offensive punch has been a hindrance to say the least.
The Phillies really need to start banking some wins. While they’ve been neck-and-neck with the Mets at the top of the division to a degree, New York has five games in hand because of early-season COVID issues. Philadelphia has overachieved a little bit for the season as a whole, as BaseRuns has them more like a 19-23 team instead of a 22-20 team.
A guy that has underachieved, though, is Wednesday’s starter, Zach Eflin. Eflin has a 3.86 ERA with a 2.96 FIP, so his advanced metrics suggest some positive regression. Eflin has a spectacular 51/5 K/BB ratio, but he has a .336 BABIP against. The Phillies continue to struggle defensively, so Eflin’s strong control has been counterfeited by the fact that more balls in play have gone for hits against him. Only three of the walks have been unintentional.
In defense of the fielders, Eflin’s Hard Hit% is up 12% this season from 32.7% to 44.7%, so they’ve had to make some tougher plays this season when he’s been on the mound. His fastball velocity is down a little bit this season, but the control profile looks good and the command, while down a little from last season, does not suggest any sort of injury indicators to me.
Ultimately, the story is the same for Eflin as it is for Rogers, with one big difference. The offense for the Phillies is a little bit better with a .387 SLG that is 20 points higher than what the Marlins have had to show for this season. The Phillies are also 18 points better in the wOBA department.
However, what Philly makes up for on the offensive side, the Phillies also give up on the relief pitching side. Miami is third in reliever FIP. Philadelphia is 22nd in reliever FIP. If you like the Phillies, you’re probably thinking about a 1st 5 innings bet in this game.
Marlins vs. Phillies Free Pick
Eflin doesn’t issue a lot of walks, but the Marlins don’t walk much anyway. The Marlins do have the better bullpen if this is a close game late, and it does project to be one. Money has leaked in on the Phillies here with the signs of positive regression in the profile for Eflin, but this will be a game about defense and relief pitching in my estimation and the Marlins are better in those two areas.
Pick: Miami Marlins