A classic National League East battle takes place on Tuesday evening, as the red-hot Atlanta Braves visit the Philadelphia Phillies for a three-game set.
It’s an interesting matchup. Both trail the New York Mets for the NL East league, but both are also still in the Wildcard hunt. The NL West is so tough, however, that the division crown might be the only way into the playoffs this year for NL East teams.
For now, the Braves are a game up on the Cardinals in the second Wildcard spot.
Therefore, this is a massive series between two fierce rivals.
Who has the edge?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 1 of this three-game set.
Atlanta Braves vs Philadelphia Phillies Odds
The pitching matchup is so interesting here.
Charlie Morton takes on Zach Wheeler in a matchup of two big-time names. But, while Wheeler has been his typical self – a Cy Young candidate – Morton has been a shell of himself.
But considering the Braves have been so hot, the odds for this game are about dead even.
Does that mean the Phillies are worth a look here?
Atlanta Braves Starting Lineup
C. Morton R
4-3 4.84 ERA
SS D. Swanson R
C T. d’Arnaud R
1B M. Olson L
3B A. Riley R
LF M. Ozuna R
2B O. Arcia R
DH W. Contreras R
RF A. Duvall R
CF M. Harris L
Atlanta Braves vs Zack Wheeler
There are only three National League pitchers with a higher fWAR than Wheeler this season, and all three are Cy Young candidates.
Wheeler has managed to keep his ERA, xERA, FIP, and xFIP all under 3.00. That’s an accomplishment, but one that we expect from Wheeler.
But can he slow down the Braves?
Atlanta leads the league in OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ during June. And they’ve gone a ridiculous 19-5 during the month, putting themselves right back in the National League playoff race.
Dansby Swanson is raking alongside Austin Riley. Matt Olson has been a sufficient replacement for Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña jr. has carried his weight.
But it’s a team effort in Atlanta For example, the bullpen ranks second among all teams in reliever xFIP this season, just behind the Dodgers.
Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup
Z. Wheeler R
6-4 2.77 ERA
LF K. Schwarber L
1B R. Hoskins R
C J. Realmuto R
DH N. Castellanos R
SS D. Gregorius L
3B A. Bohm R
CF O. Herrera L
RF M. Vierling R
2B B. Stott L
Philadelphia Phillies vs Charlie Morton
“Ground Chuck” is now forcing just a 38.7% ground ball rate. Over a full season, that would be the lowest of his career.
His numbers have faltered as a result. Morton’s ERA, xERA, and FIP all are approaching 5.00. His curveball and sinker aren’t producing the results they used to.
All-in-all, Morton is broken.
That gives the Phillies a chance on Tuesday. Even without Bryce Harper, who recently fractured his thumb and will be out for more than a month.
The Phillies will have to respond with JT Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Castellanos, and the red-hot Kyle Schwarber. Schwarbo has hit 10 home runs in June alone on the way to a 1.068 OPS.
Atlanta Braves vs Philadelphia Phillies Pick & Prediction
My picks: Phillies F5 ML (-122 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
I don’t care how hot the Braves are. This pitching mismatch is too much to overcome.
The Phillies may be without Harper, but this lineup is not pathetic. They have the bats to take advantage of Morton, especially when Ground Chuck is floundering so bad.
I don’t care to mess with the bullpens considering the massive mismatch. Therefore, at anything better than -125, I’ll be on the Phillies in the first half.