MLB schedule today has 1 game
Welp, we’re down to one series as the Astros and Diamondbacks both punched tickets to the League Championship Series on Wednesday. It will be Game 4 between the Braves and Phillies and Atlanta is favored to take it back home for a decisive Game 5 on Saturday, but Philadelphia beat Spencer Strider in Game 1, so we’ll see if they can repeat the feat and finish it off.
The ALCS will start on Sunday no matter what and I’ll have a preview of that series out either Thursday or Friday, as AL West rivals Houston and Texas play for the chance to go to the World Series. The NLCS will start on Monday, whether it features the Braves or the Phillies.
VSiN Daily Baseball Bets will be out shortly.
Here are some thoughts on the October 12 card (odds from DraftKings):
(odds as of 7:45 a.m. PT)
This season’s hopes for the No. 1 overall Braves rest on the right arm of Spencer Strider. Strider was excellent in his Game 1 start, going seven innings with one earned runs and two runs total with eight strikeouts against a couple of walks and a wild pitch. However, the Braves offense did nothing against Ranger Suarez in a glorified bullpen game and lost 3-0.
Suarez went 3.2 nearly perfect innings with just a hit and a walk allowed, as he struck out four. He threw 53 pitches and was followed by Jeff Hoffman, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, filthy rookie Orion Kerkering, Matt Strahm, and Craig Kimbrel. Three of those guys (Dominguez, Strahm, Kerkering) pitched yesterday, but with two off days in this series on Sunday and Tuesday, the Phillies pen is in great shape to be set up much the same way here in Game 4.
With another day off prior to Game 5, if necessary, and Zack Wheeler on the mound, Rob Thomson can manage this game very aggressively and look to leverage his relievers accordingly. He won’t have to stick with Suarez any longer than he wants to.
That said, Suarez was really effective in Game 1, as he allowed an average exit velocity of 83.1 mph and had eight whiffs in 29 swings. Catcher JT Realmuto noted after the game that he knew Suarez wasn’t going to work long, so he didn’t hold anything back with how he called the game. That will be the case again here.
The Phillies bullpen has allowed three runs on 13 hits in 14.2 innings with 12 strikeouts against four walks and the primary guys will all be in the spotlight tonight. Basically, as long as Suarez doesn’t get hit hard in the first or second inning, the Phillies can set it up from there.
Strider has a pretty full bullpen behind him thanks to the off days and yesterday’s blowout loss. The Braves used four relievers, but none of their high-leverage guys, so everybody of consequence is available. The Braves would rather not go the Johnny Wholestaff route and instead get an ace-like start from Strider, who had a 3.86 ERA with a 3.04 xERA and a 2.85 FIP in his 32 starts covering 186.2 innings.
I talked about it coming into Game 1, but Strider’s high ERA was a byproduct of some bad luck with not stranding runners, though his Hard Hit% was a little bit elevated down the stretch run. This will be a tough and hostile road environment as this has really morphed into one of baseball’s best rivalries. And his margin for error looks very slim with what the Braves’ bats are doing in the series.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about Suarez’s Outs prop, which sits at 11.5 and juiced to -130 on the under. He went 3.2 innings, so this fell right in line last time out, but it was a 1-0 game and the Braves got runners on first and second with a single and then a fielder’s choice where everybody was safe. The plan was to avoid the third time through the order and Suarez faced the minimum the first time through, as he allowed a walk, but that was followed by a caught stealing. If the Braves get a little more traffic and can turn the lineup over quicker, then Suarez will be out earlier. If not, then Suarez may pitch through the fourth here. I think it’s a good line.
At +130, the Phillies are worth a play to me. The specialists have been good in the playoffs and the Phillies just seem to have a way about them, especially against Atlanta. Thomson has out-managed Brian Snitker in this series and I don’t think Snitker, if forced to a decision, will make the right one regarding Strider. If he’s on the ropes, I don’t think he’ll pull the ripcord quickly enough.
Strider is definitely superior to Suarez, but how superior is Strider to Suarez for three-ish innings and then the Phillies bullpen, a group that has shined in this series? I think the +130 has some equity here and the Phillies have a good chance to end it.
Pick: Phillies +130