The Phillies look to get back on track this week at Citizens Bank Park after a tough west coast road trip in which the team went 2-4 and fell out of first-place in the National League East. But doing so won’t be easy.
The Boston Red Sox come to town as winners in nine of their last 10 games, which has propelled them an absurd 50 games over .500.
The Phillies’ pitching quieted a potent Red Sox lineup during their two-game series back in late July, but that was with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta on the mound. It will be up to Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez to quiet a scorching Boston lineup that has produced 87 runs in 11 games this month.
On the other side, the Phillies need the bats to wake up. They scored only 15 runs over their six-game road trip and have only generated 38 total runs in 10 games this month.
One team has all of the momentum, while the other is looking to gain some traction after a difficult stretch. While it certainly seems like a difficult spot for the Phillies, there are some intriguing bits of information and betting options when it comes to tonight’s game. DraftKings Sportsbook is the only online sports betting option available for those of you in New Jersey, so let’s take a look at their offerings for tonight (keep in mind, odds are as of writing this and are subject to change):
1) Phillies +114
As I mentioned above, there’s no team in baseball hotter than the Red Sox right now. They still have an outside shot to pass the 2001 Seattle Mariners’ MLB-record 116 regular season wins. They send 14-game winner Rick Porcello to the mound against Nick Pivetta, owner of a 7-9 record and 4.51 ERA. Given this, the Red Sox at -132 seems a bit cheap. Maybe that’s good value, but as many sports bettors know, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. And Pivetta, who has a 1.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in two August starts, is better than most people think. Some things to consider:
1) Pivetta’s 2.6 WAR is tied for ninth-best among qualified National League starting pitchers. His 3.48 FIP is 8th best, and his 11.06 K/9 is bested by only Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin in the National League this season.
2. He’s coming off an excellent start at Arizona in which he tossed six shutout innings.
3. He pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out nine against Boston last season.
Considering the Phillies’ lackadaisical and uninspiring play this past weekend, their motivation should be sky-high in a “show-me” game as they return home against baseball’s best team. Keep in mind, the Phillies’ 38-18 mark at CBP gives them the NL’s best home record this season.
2. Under 8.5 +102
Given the Phillies’ consistent struggles at the plate and my aforementioned belief in Pivetta, I also like the “under” on total runs a bit in this game. I don’t recommend taking it at the set line of 9 runs, but thanks to DraftKings’ robust “alternate total runs” betting option, there’s a way to gain some value. May I suggest dropping the total to 8.5 and taking the “under” at +102. Yes, this maneuver eliminates the potential for a push at nine total runs, but it also saves 24 cents on the dollar. Pivetta’s July struggles came in the midst of a stretch in which the “over” hit in 7 of his 8 starts (the other was a push), but the “under” has cashed his last two times through the rotation. Keep in mind he’s limited opponents to a .242 average and .688 OPS at home this season. I think there’s some value on backing the under once again.
3. Phillies to lead after three innings +160
This pick has a little bit to do with numbers and a little bit to do with feel. Boston pitchers allow an average of 1.40 runs in innings 1-3, while the Philadelphia’s allow 1.39 runs per game. Offensively, the Red Sox average 1.67 runs to the Phillies 1.42 over the first three innings. Pivetta has struggled in the first inning this season with an ERA well over 5.00, but I think he holds down the Red Sox early tonight. Also, consider this: Pivetta has a 4.55 ERA in innings 1-3 this season, while Rick Porcello has a 5.07 ERA. If the Phillies are going to win this game, they need to start fast. I like the Phillies tonight with a goofy line and the value, and so this is a play that maximizes that value. I’ll take a +160 payout on the NL’s best home team to back a talented and hot pitcher for three innings.
That’s it. A little value for your Tuesday night betting needs. Go forth.