The Philadelphia Phillies have come out of the gate strong in the second half, winning both of their series since the All-Star break last week and going 4-2 overall. They stand at 41-52 on the season, still a hefty 13.5 games back of the Washington Nationals in the NL East.
Of course, where it really matters – on my betting sheet – the Phillies came out of the gate weak. They fell 2 runs short of going over last Friday’s game total of 10 runs, making me lose my bet, and dropping my season MLB record to 5-6.
This weekend, the Phillies return home for a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants (51-41), who are atop the NL West standings. The projected pitching matchups are Vance Worley vs. Tim Lincecum tonight, Cole Hamels vs. Matt Cain on Saturday, and Joe Blanton vs. Barry Zito on Sunday.
Let’s get to the analysis…
The Background: The Phillies have put together a solid start to the second half of the season, and if it weren’t for a blown save by Jonathan Papelbon on Wednesday, they’d be on a five-game winning streak. Instead, they went 4-2 over the last six games. There are only nine games remaining before the trade deadline, so they’ll have to continue to make a strong move in the right direction if they want to avoid dumping players for prospects.
The Giants, meanwhile, have started the second half even better. They’ve won both their series as well, sweeping the Houston Astros and taking 2-of-3 against the Atlanta Braves.
The Line: Phillies -130; Giants +110; O/U 8.5
My Take: In the past, an Over/Under line of 8.5 in a game started by Tim Lincecum would be insanely high. This year, however, that is a completely different story. For the season, he has a 5.93 ERA. He is coming off an excellent start against the Astros, going 8 innings with 11 strikeouts and no runs. The two starts before that, though, he didn’t last past the fourth inning. Worley’s first post-break start was decent as well – 6.2 innings, 2 runs, 8 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts.
There have been an average of 7.33 runs per game scored in the Phillies’ and Giants’ 12 total games since the All-Star break. That’s a full run under the Over/Under line for this game. I also think that Lincecum is poised for a second-half turnaround, so I’m playing the Under in tonight’s game.