It’s a nice +135 underdog to put us back in the green. I couldn’t believe they were that price at Citizens Bank Park, but we’ll take it when we see it.
Today, I have one pick for you. I would have had two, and I’ll discuss it at the article’s bottom. I bet it a few days ago, and the price has skyrocketed. I obviously can’t control line movement, so I won’t make it an official play. You’ll see what I mean.
I still don’t have a pick for the Rangers vs. Astros. In a standalone game, I would bet the Rangers today as I view Eovaldi as the better starter right now, and the value is on them. However, I just can’t bet against the Astros going down 0-2 at home. It could very well happen, but I can press the button. The total is intriguing towards the under, but I feel both offenses go wild. Personally, it’s a really hard series to cap.
Check out my MLB future on this series for more data.
2023 MLB Regular Season: 154-165 (-11.66 U)
2023 MLB Playoffs: 8-8 (+1.03 U)
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies @ 8:07 PM EST
Zac Gallen: 3.47 ERA, 4.18 xERA, 3.27 FIP, 3.49 xFIP, 3.67 SIERA
Zack Wheeler: 3.61 ERA, 3.21 xERA, 3.15 FIP, 3.54 xFIP, 3.53 SIERA
Before we even begin, why are there three different ways of spelling the same first name? Even though I watch baseball religiously, I had to double-check the spellings of both of our pitchers’ first names. Zach? Zac? Zack? I’m not sure the best way to spell it, but I do know that both pitchers are deadly in the post-season.
Zack Wheeler is on a different planet. Regarding WHIP (Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched), Wheeler ranks number one. Among all pitchers with at least 40 IP in the postseason, his 0.72 WHIP is lower than second-place Mariano Rivera (0.76) and Kenley Jansen (0.80). Rounding out the top five is Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson. He’s not just the best postseason pitcher in the 2023 playoffs; he’s building a resume that may end up the best of all time.
He allowed two runs in his last start against the Braves, but if you watched that game, a final line of 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, and 10 K doesn’t even do him justice. That line alone is phenomenal, but he carried a no-hitter going into the sixth inning. I don’t care who he’s facing at this point. You get Zack Wheeler at the Bank; I’m in.
Zack Wheeler is built for the postseason. High-velocity stuff that generates swings and misses with pinpoint command. He also has one of the best pitch framers in JT Realmuto to grab the corners for him. He pitched to a 2.59 ERA and 2.60 FIP in 48.2 IP postseason. He’s just… different.
Wheeler has an especially good matchup against a lineup filled with right-handed bats. He’s good against everyone, but righties have had the most trouble this year. Against righties, he’s posted a 2.67 FIP and 2.79 xFIP, compared to lefties at a 3.64 FIP and 4.29 xFIP. We saw this against the Marlins, as lefties Josh Bell and Jesus Sanchez were the only ones to contribute. Against the Braves, Albies was the one who had the big hit to start the Braves’ rally.
The first inning is key. The Diamondbacks have left-handers Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte at the top. Carroll is 0-5 against Wheeler, but Marte is 4-10. He should fare extremely well in this game if he can get around these two. I like Wheeler’s chances. The rest of the lineup is right-handed outside of Alek Thomas.
Wheeler has logged two starts against the Diamondbacks this season. In May, he allowed three runs in six innings, and then in June, he shut them down for one run over six innings. I’m putting Wheelers’ line at six innings of one-run ball. It’s playoff Wheeler.
Zac Gallen is such a stud. I’ve donated plenty of money to the sportsbooks claiming that Gallen’s road issues are a reason to fade him. I’m not sure I’ve ever succeeded in doing that, but the concerns remain. When I say “concerns,” I mean he’s not the greatest pitcher alive like he is at Chase Field. He posted a 2.32 FIP (25.6% K-BB) at home and a 4.15 FIP (15.9% K-BB) on the road. He can be beaten on the road, but he’s still extremely good wherever he’s at.
Gallen has made two post-season starts, one in Milwaukee and one in Los Angeles. He’s thrown 11.2 innings and allowed four earned runs to give him a 3.18 ERA. I think the Phillies can give him some early troubles, but nothing that gets out of hand. I think he goes five innings of two-run ball. That’s what he did in his lone start against them this year: 5.2 IP of two-run ball at Citizens Bank Park on May 24.
The bullpens have plenty of rest to be ready for this one. We saw both offenses look rusty in Houston, and I expect much of the same in this one. I love both pitchers and since game one is so important, we should see the best of the best from both squads. I don’t see how eight runs are scored in this game. Even if five runs are scored in the first five innings, both bullpens have proven to be lethal, so I don’t see more than three runs being scored after the starters exit.
It’s supposed to be cold in Philadelphia at first pitch. Game time temperatures should hover around 54 degrees, and it will only get colder. While Citizens Bank Park normally plays toward the hitters, pitchers should feast in this one.
Full disclosure: I bet the Phillies ML (-145) when the line came out. That line was too low, and I jumped. It’s now -165 or -170, depending on where you look. That’s well out of the price range, and since the current price is nowhere near that, I won’t count it towards our playoff record. I think this is a pitcher’s dual with the Phillies ending out on top, similar to game four of the NLDS.
When betting unders in playoff games, I must be confident that both starters can limit the home run ball. Both Wheeler and Gallen do exactly that, rocking a 0.94 HR/9 this season, well below the 1.23 HR/9 average. I think the Phillies win 4-2, and it stays well under the total of 7.5.