The Philadelphia Phillies will host the NL East leading Atlanta Braves on Thursday night in the finale of a crucial four-game series. The Braves have the division mostly under wraps as they look forward to October, but the Phillies sit a few games back in the Wild Card. For the home team, a win to close out this series and head into the weekend on a positive note is crucial. Can they top the division leaders?
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- Date and Time: Thursday, September 12, 2019, 7:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Braves vs. Phillies 2019 MLB TV Coverage: TBS
This MLB series finale showdown will feature an interesting matchup with Julio Teheran on the hill for the Braves opposite Drew Smyly for the Phillies.
Teheran has been a steady starter for the Braves this Baseball season though he did get off to a rocky start to the year, allowing three runs in five innings against the Phillies on Opening Day. That was the only time Teheran has faced Philadelphia, until Thursday night’s game.
The Braves veteran right-hander is 10-8 with a 3.31 ERA on the season, leading the team with 30 starts and 163.1 innings of work. Over his last 23 games, Teheran has been even better, pitching to a 2.67 ERA.
Overall, the 28-year old has been a bit fortunate when looking at the peripherals. His FIP is 4.30 and his WHIP sits at 1.292. Walks have been an issue from time-to-time for Teheran. He has walked 77 batters and hit 11 more this season, giving the opposition some extra base runners. Still, he’s managed to limit the opposing batting average and has done a good job keeping the ball in the park this season with fewer than one homer per nine innings, a rare feat in today’s game.
After a rough outing in the middle of August against the Mets, Teheran has strung together four straight quality starts, giving up just three runs and 14 hits combined in those starts, spanning 25 innings pitched.
The Braves are 19-11 when Teheran takes the ball and 9-3 in his last dozen starts.
Smyly has had an interesting season. He was released by the Rangers after a terrible start coming off injury. Since joining the Phillies, he’s been rather up-and-down. Most recently, however, he hurled seven scoreless innings against the Mets in New York.
This will only be the 30-year old southpaws second start of his career against the Braves. It’s a rare case of unfamiliarity between divisional foes. It’s hard to say necessarily who that benefits, but traditionally the pitcher gets a little edge as the opposition takes one time through the order to adjust to his stuff.
Overall, Smyly is 3-1 with a 3.93 ERA and 1.291 WHIP in 50.1 innings since joining the Phillies nine starts ago. He had a rough patch a few starts ago but has thrown well his last couple outings.
Counting his time in Texas, his overall numbers aren’t great this year. He’s got a 6.20 ERA and 6.44 FIP, but he’s shown much better control in the NL with better walk and homer rates. That said, he’s still allowed 10 dingers since coming to the Phillies and that is a concern.
The bullpen is a bit of an issue for both teams, but the Braves did more at the trade deadline to address it than the Phillies.
With Shane Greene starting to pitch better, the Braves now have a rather solid pen to lean on late in the game. Mark Melancon is the team’s closer for the moment but is better equipped in a set up role alongside Sean Newcomb, Luke Jackson and Chris Martin. Greene got the last save but has yet to regain the closer’s position he was handed and abruptly lost after he was acquired.
The pen isn’t great, but there are some quality arms and options for Brian Snitker and the Braves’ bullpen ERA is better than the Phillies’ on the season.
Philadelphia has a lot of injured relievers from Juan Nicasio and Adam Morgan to Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek and David Robertson.
Hector Neris gives the Phillies a bit more certainly in the closer’s role than the Braves have now, but the rest of the pen doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Offensively, there is little comparison between these teams. While the Phillies have been a solid offensive club on the year, the Braves rank second in the NL in both runs scored and OPS, topped only by the Dodgers.
Nick Markakis is still on the IL for Atlanta, but the rest of the lineup is healthy. Josh Donaldson, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Freddie Freeman each have at least 36 home runs. Donaldson has a .926 OPS and 85 RBI to go with his 36 jacks while Acuna has 34 steals and 93 RBI accompanying his 37 homers. Meanwhile, Freeman is a fringe MVP candidate with his .299/.391/.570 slash line, 38 homers, 115 RBI and 141 OPS+.
As if those three elite sluggers weren’t enough, the Braves compliment them with the likes of Ozzie Albies, who has a 111 OPS+ himself. Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley have had their issues this season as times, but both are still very strong young players.
From there, Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Francisco Cervelli, Tyler Flowers, and a slew of others gives the Braves plenty of excellent pinch hit and pinch run options.
In Philadelphia, Bryce Harper leads the team with a 121 OPS+. While that’s a solid season, it’s not quite up to the standards for Freeman or Donaldson.
Alongside Harper, Rhys Hoskins is a nice power bat who has turned the corner after a terrible August. J.T. Realmuto is still one of the best catchers in the game. Otherwise, Scott Kingery has slowed after a strong first few months and the rest of the lineup is average-at-best.
Few teams are as good on the road as they are at home, but the Braves are one of those clubs. Atlanta has a .609 winning percentage on the road and are 8-4 in their last 12 road games going into the series against the Phillies.
Overall, Atlanta 25-10 since the start of August. They’re 9-1 in their last 10 games and 17-3 in their last 20.
The Phillies have won back-to-back games coming into their series with the Braves, snapping a three-game losing streak. Philadelphia is 5-3 in September and overall has a solid 41-31 home record this season.
Head-to-head, the Phillies and Braves are even on the season series at six games apiece, though, Atlanta is 6-3 since getting swept by Philadelphia in the season opening series.
The Phillies have held their own against the Braves this season and are a solid home team, but Atlanta is more than formidable on the road.
Look for the Braves to get to Smyly and take him deep to grab an early lead. While Smyly’s been solid for the Phillies, he still struggles with the longball, meanwhile the Braves have tons of power.
Atlanta should be able to add on against the bullpen as well to maintain the lead.
Meanwhile, look for another strong start for Teheran who has pitched to a sub-3 ERA for most of the season. He should deliver a quality start and turn the ball over to a pen that seems to finally be putting it all together.
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies Pick: Take the Braves to get out of Philadelphia on a positive note with a win on Thursday.
Atlanta Braves vs. Philadelphia Phillies Score Prediction: Braves 6, Phillies 4