For the first time all year, my betting pick for the Philadelphia Phillies from last week was a wash – quite literally. That’s because their Friday game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the one in which I predicted the Rays would win, was rained out and moved to Sunday.
The line changed on that game come Saturday morning, so it’s really unfair to assess the outcome of that game based on my original predictions. So I’m giving myself a pass on that one. My MLB betting record for the season, then, remains at 4-4 going into tonight’s game.
Here are my thoughts…
The Background: After winning the first two games of their last series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies (36-42) dropped the last two, resulting in a 2-2 series split. Second baseman Chase Utley returned to the lineup on Wednesday, and even hit a home run, but the team lost anyway. Utley pinched-hit in yesterday’s game, but struck out.
The Phillies start a three-game series against the Miami Marlins (35-40) in South Florida tonight. The projected starters for the series are Cliff Lee vs. Josh Johnson, Cole Hamels vs. Mark Buehrle, and Joe Blanton vs. Ricky Nolasco.
The Line: Phillies -103, Marlins -107, O/U 7.5
My Take: After a very hot May, the Marlins have had a horrific June, going 6-18, dropping 8 of their last 10 games, and putting them only a half-game above the Phillies in the NL East standings. Tonight’s game is basically even on the betting line, thanks to a pitching matchup that should be quite good, at least on paper.
Johnson’s 4-5 record isn’t that impressive, but he’s been quite good lately. In 4 starts in June, he has allowed 6 earned runs on 20 hits, 10 walks and 27 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. Lee (0-4 on the season), meanwhile, has not been very good in that same timeframe. In his 4 June starts, he has allowed 16 earned runs on 31 hits, 7 walks and 32 strikeouts in an identical 27.2 innings pitched.
Those trends alone would make me lean toward the Marlins in this contest. Even though they are coming off two straight losses, though, the Phillies are playing better baseball than the Marlins are right now. Plus, in his only start against the Phillies this year, back in April, Johnson got rocked, to the tune of 6 earned runs in only 3.2 innings pitched. Lee hasn’t faced the Marlins this year.
So, despite the recent trends of the starting pitchers for tonight’s game, I have a slight lean toward the Phillies from a betting perspective. Let’s get Cliff Lee his first win of the season!