Let’s take a look at the odds for this classic division rival showdown, where my prediction is for the Braves to cover a spread of -1.5 runs. The Atlanta Braves have already locked up yet another NL East title, their sixth in a row and an astounding 18th total since 1995, when the division settled into its current alignment. Still, they’re locked in a battle for seeding with the Los Angeles Dodgers, while their opponents this Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies, are working hard to hold ground as the NL’s top Wild Card.
Phillies Vs. Braves Prediction
While the Phillies are sitting in the NL’s top Wild Card spot, they’re currently just 2.5 games away from losing home field advantage in the Wild Card round, and only a game more from dropping out of the playoffs entirely. The margins are razor thin, so if the stakes weren’t already inherently high enough when playing a major rival like the Braves, the Phils have plenty of external motivating factors coming into this one. Philly has been sliding a bit in terms of wins and losses, but with guys like Bryce Harper and Trea Turner rounding into form, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about another deep run into October.
As for the Braves, they’re rolling at the right time, although it seems that they’re really rolling all the time. This team is absolutely loaded with star talent, with as many as four hitters with a chance to reach 40 home runs on the year, including league leader Matt Olson with 52 and MVP frontrunner Ronald Acuña Jr. The Venezuelan superstar missed out on the last Braves title run, and looks to be a centerpiece this time around. In Tuesday’s matchup with the Phillies, he smacked two more homers on his own bobblehead night, leaving him one homer away from becoming the league’s first 40-60 player and 3 steals on top of that from making it 40-70, after the Braves amusingly printed 30-60 shirts that Spencer Strider correctly noted will soon be defunct.
Atlanta is also stacked in the pitching department, including Wednesday’s starter Bryce Elder. The ironically young righty is having a strong second season in the bigs, although FIP and WHIP both imply that he’s gotten a bit lucky so far. Conversely, the same numbers imply that Philly’s Aaron Nola’s ERA should be a bit lower than it is, although the implied level of performance is still not that great.
This leads me to my first pick of the day, the over. This isn’t a bad pitching matchup by any stretch, but it’s not enough to negate two highly talented lineups. Nonetheless, Atlanta has the slight edge in Elder, a more significant one in terms of the lineup, and they’re at home; they should be able to cover a 1.5 run spread.
Phillies Vs. Braves Prediction: Braves -1.5 (+135), o9.5 runs (-110)
Phillies vs Braves Odds
The Braves have +135 odds to cover a spread of -1.5, while the Phillies are favored to cover with -160 odds. For a run total of 9.5, both sides have -110 odds.
Phillies Vs. Braves Key Matchups
Aaron Nola Vs. Power Hitters
It looked like Nola had really figured out how to limit the long ball after a 2022 in which he only allowed 0.8 home runs per 9 innings of work, but he’s up to a career-worst 1.5 in that figure this season. Statcast implies that this spike is not a fluke, as Nola is mediocre in terms of the major contact quality metrics of barrel rate and exit velocity. The real issue here for Nola is that when your issue is surrendering gopher balls, the Braves are the worst possible team in the league to face, if not the worst team ever- they’re on pace to break the 2019 Twins’ record of 307 home runs in a season.
We’ve already talked about Olson, who has somehow-quietly eclipsed the 50-homer mark and has a dozen games left to add to his already-lofty total, and Acuña whose multifaceted performance has taken the league by storm. But a historic power hitting team like Atlanta has more than two threats; third baseman Austin Riley is right up there with 36 home runs, tied for sixth in the NL, while Marcell Ozuna is right behind with 35. Ozzie Albies has had a nice season at the plate and is somewhat hilariously fifth on the team with 31 homers, while Eddie Rosario and Sean Murphy are both up over 20, and Michael Harris II or Orlando Arcia could even join that club, giving Atlanta a true embarrassment of homer-slugging riches.
Bryce Elder Vs. Contact Bats
Elder, a first-time All Star this season, has done a better job than Nola at keeping the ball in the yard, and he’s limited walks too, avoiding a major pitfall for young, talented arms. However his WHIP is just a bit elevated due to some issue avoiding contact, which the advanced data backs up once more; he does well limiting barrels, but his whiff percentage and hard hit rate could use some work. He’s going to have to face a Philly lineup that’s currently fifth in the majors in batting average, which is a major reason I like the over for a total of 9.5 runs in my Phillies vs. Braves prediction.
Bryce Harper tops the team list with a .290 mark, as he’s continued to hit for contact while his power stroke has returned. Bryson Stott is up next with a .283 average in what has been a really nice breakout season for him as a second-year pro. Brandon Marsh is just a couple of ticks behind Stott, while Alec Bohm and Nick Castellanos find themselves in the .270s. Trea Turner is sitting just a bit lower, but is trending positively after a disastrous start to the season.
Phillies Vs. Braves Starting Lineups
Phillies Starting Lineup
DH K. Schwarber L
SS T. Turner R
1B B. Harper L
3B A. Bohm R
2B B. Stott L
C J. Realmuto R
RF N. Castellanos R
LF B. Marsh L
CF J. Rojas R
Braves Starting Lineup
RF R. Acuña Jr. R
2B O. Albies S
3B A. Riley R
1B M. Olson L
DH M. Ozuna
C S. Murphy R
SS O. Arcia R
LF E. Rosario L
CF M. Harris II L