Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves: Predictions, Best Odds, & Starting Lineups for NLDS Game 1 (10/7/23)
It’s an NL East showdown in the NLDS as the Atlanta Braves host the Philadelphia Phillies for a best-of-five series beginning Saturday night (10/7/23) at 6:07pm.
The Braves are the favorites to win the series at -175 and they are -200 on the moneyline in Game 1, while the over/under is set at 8.5 runs. This article provides Phillies vs. Braves analysis, predictions and best bets including a recommendation to bet on the Braves to cover -1.5 on the run line in Game 1 .
Phillies vs. Braves Prediction NLDS Game 1
Starting Pitchers: LHP Ranger Suárez (4-6, 4.18 ERA) vs. RHP Spencer Strider (20-5, 3.86 ERA)
It seems crazy to say this about the best team in baseball, but the Braves are facing a must-win situation in Game 1 of this series.
After a record-setting season, they are perhaps as vulnerable now as they have been all season because of injuries to their starting rotation. Game 1 starter Spencer Strider is their best and currently most healthy and reliable pitcher, and he is not facing either of the Phillies’ two elite pitchers, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, because they just pitched the two NLWC games against the Marlins.
If Strider cannot take care of business in Game 1, then the Braves will be in trouble with Wheeler and Nola set to pitch the next two games, and the Braves facing serious questions about who will start for them in those games. Max Fried can make a case as the Braves’ true ace, but he is dealing with a blister on his throwing hand and his availability for Game 2 is uncertain. Their other option is Bryce Elder, a 2023 All-Star who was reliable for most of the season but struggled down the stretch as he dealt with fatigue in his first full MLB season.
Whoever they have on the mound in the next two games, they will be at a disadvantage against the Phillies’ top starters, which makes the first game that much more important. But that’s not the only reason the pressure is on the Braves in Game 1.
These teams met in the NLDS last season and the Phillies won Game 1 en route to a 3-1 series victory. Their other two victories in that series came back in Philly, where the Phillies have the best home field advantage in MLB postseason history (minimum 30 games) with a 24-11 record (.686). They went 6-0 at home against NL opponents in the playoffs last year and won convincingly in the first two home games in this postseason. They have also won five consecutive Game 1s going back to last year.
So yeah, it might sound crazy, but this is indeed a must-win game for the Braves. Will they rise to the occasion? Smarty money says they do, but it won’t be easy.
Strider did not finish the season strong. Over his last 6 starts, he had a 5.67 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. His two best starts during that stretch were against a Phillies team still trying to clinch the top Wild Card spot, and he was very good in all 4 of his starts against the Phillies this season. He pitched at least 6 innings each time, never allowed more than 3 runs, and had at least 9 Ks in each start. His overall numbers in those 4 starts: 26 IP, 2.42 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 38 Ks.
If Strider can replicate those performances, then the Braves should win this game. But last time he faced the Phillies in the postseason, he got chased in the 3rd inning after allowing 5 earned runs and retiring just 7 batters. The Braves are not as deep as the Phillies in the bullpen and cannot afford for Strider to struggle early. That should be part of the Phillies’ approach against him, staying patient and working counts to force him into a higher pitch count, which is easier said than done against Strider’s elite swing-and-miss stuff.
The biggest reason to trust the Braves in this spot is their matchup with Phillies starter Ranger Suárez. The Braves absolutely crushed left-handed pitching this season, slashing .288/.350/.521 with a 131 wRC+. Those were all the best marks in the majors by a wide margin.
Suárez only faced the Braves once this season, tossing 6 innings of 1-run ball while striking out 7. But he struggled against them in last year’s playoffs, managing only 10 outs on 86 pitches. However, he only allowed 1 earned run in that game, and the Phillies bullpen was able to earn the win.
Suárez could be on a short leash in this game as the Phillies can afford to go deep into their bullpen given the off day Sunday before Game 2 on Monday. With another off day on Tuesday before the series heads to Philadelphia, there should be no issues with the bullpen arms recovering from Games 1 and 2.
Given the pressure they’re facing and their advantage on the mound, we like the Braves to win Game 1 of this series, but their -200 moneyline odds don’t offer much value, so we suggest laying the -1.5 runs instead to bet them at even money (+100). The way both these teams can hit, and with reason for concern about both pitchers, we also like the over on 8.5 runs as our best bet in this game.
Phillies vs. Braves Prediction: Braves -1.5 (+100), over 8.5 runs (-110) (best bet)
Phillies vs. Braves Best Odds
PHI @ ATL
Oct. 07, 10:07 PM
Odds updated October 8th, 2023, at 1:09 am
The Braves are heavy favorites in Game 1 with -200 moneyline odds, while the Phillies are at +170 on the moneyline.
The Braves are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +100 odds, while the Phillies are get -1.5 runs at -120 odds.
The over/under is set at 8.5 runs with -110 odds on the over and -110 on the under.
Phillies vs. Braves Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Phillies vs. Braves.
Spencer Strider vs. Phillies’ patient hitters
The Braves’ pitching advantage with Strider against Suárez was the biggest reason we picked the Braves -1.5 in our Phillies vs. Braves prediction. We can be reasonably confident the Braves will score some runs off Suárez, so it all comes down to Strider meeting his lofty expectations. If he does, the Braves will win this game.
The Phillies obviously need to score some runs off Strider, but it’s almost equally important that they make him throw extra pitches and try to get him out of the game as early as possible. They have some very patient hitters like Kyle Schwarber and Bryson Stott that are adept at drawing walks and fouling off lots of pitches to keep at-bats alive. It will be important for the entire lineup to take that approach in this game.
Playoff baseball almost always comes down to pitching, and oftentimes what that really means is relief pitching, the guys that can get those crucial outs late in games to seal a must-have victory. Both of these teams had excellent bullpens throughout the season, and both finished in the top 10 in both bullpen ERA and xFIP.
The Phillies finished 6th in bullpen ERA (3.56) and 7th in xFIP (4.06) while the Braves finished 10th in ERA (3.81) and 4th in xFIP (3.96). The Phillies were better in the second half, posting a 3.27 ERA (4th) while the Braves were at 4.27 (14th).
While the Braves have several excellent arms in the bullpen – five guys with ERAs under 3.75 – the Phillies are a bit deeper and more versatile with three dependable lefties and multiple guys with closing experience. They also get a boost from the additions of Michael Lorenzen and Orion Kerkering to the bullpen in the playoffs, while Kyle Wright could give a boost to Atlanta’s bullpen.
If this game comes down to the final outs, the bullpens will be the most important factor in the final outcome.
Phillies vs. Braves Starting Lineups (Projected)
Phillies Starting Lineup
DH Kyle Schwarber (L)
SS Trea Turner (R)
3B Alec Bohm (R)
1B Bryce Harper (L)
C J.T. Realmuto (R)
RF Nick Castellanos (R)
2B Bryson Stott (L)
LF Brandon Marsh (L)
CF Johan Rojas (R)
Braves Starting Lineup
RF Ronald Acuña Jr. (R)
2B Ozzie Albies (S)
3B Austin Riley (R)
1B Matt Olson (L)
DH Marcell Ozuna (R)
LF Eddie Rosario (L)
C Sean Murphy (R)
SS Orlando Arcia (R)
CF Michael Harris (L)