The Philadelphia Phillies lead the race for second place in the NL East entering Thursday's showdown against the Miami Marlins, which begins a crucial seven-day series.
Philly split yesterday's doubleheader with Boston, while the Marlins are coming off a 29-9 loss to Atlanta and need to rebound quickly. Miami sits 1.5 games back from the Phillies in the division, and is clinging to the NL's final playoff seed by the same margin.
Keep going for the rest of abe Insights' preview, which includes a breakdown of the primary betting lines, advanced stats and the best odds available across all sportsbooks.
Date: Thursday, September 10
Time: 6:40 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia; Fox Sports Florida
Implied Probabilities: Phillies 52%; Marlins 50%
Spread: PHI -1.5 (+155); MIA +1.5 (-161)
Moneyline: PHI -108; MIA -100
Philly's Jake Arrieta has continually regressed since arriving from the Cubs over two seasons ago. He's just 3-4 this year with a 5.64 ERA, looking like a shell of the star who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015.
Arrieta will hope to rekindle some of that old magic on Thursday as he braces to take on Sandy Alcantara, who's first out to the mound for the home team. Alcantara has a 2-1 mark in three starts with a 3.78 ERA.
25.1 vs. 20.7: When it comes out strikeout percentage, the Phillies fan far less than the Fish do. Miami's K rate ranks sixth-highest in MLB, while Philadelphia boasts the fourth-lowest total.
.337 vs. .306: Another offensive area Philly has the edge is in weighted on-base percentage, which is a fairly all-encompassing stat that shows the Phillies balance power, patience at the plate and situational hitting better than most clubs, ranking seventh in the category. The Marlins are all the way down at 24th out of 30 teams.
7.24 vs. 5.27: Following the first five innings or so, all bets are off. These figures are the ERA for Philadelphia and Miami relievers respectively. Philly's is the worst mark in MLB, and the Marlins aren't much better, still placing in the bottom five.
A lack of run support continues to belie how good Alcantara has been for the Marlins. The 25-year-old had an even lower ERA in 2019, yet managed only a 6-14 record overall. Thankfully, Miami has picked up the slack and rallied around each other since a COVID-19 outbreak put the season in doubt for a while.
Alcantara's fastball has serious sinking action on it and reaches the high 90s on the radar gun on average, per FanGraphs. His stuff is straight-up nasty, and he used it to his advantage in his last outing against the AL-leading Rays, pitching six innings of three-hit ball and only one run allowed.
In fact, the Phillies were Alcantara's first opponent of this year, and he came out firing with 6.2 innings pitched, one earned run on three hits allowed and seven strikeouts. Unfortunately, that was his last appearance for over a month, as Alcantara was one of 18 Marlins to record a positive coronavirus test.
But of course, facing the Phillies' lineup is no cakewalk. There's a ton of star power, headlined by Bryce Harper, and despite no one having a transcendent season, no one on Philadelphia is really slacking off at the plate. Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen, among others, are savvy veterans who will make Alcantara work.
The bad news for Philly is it's counting on Arrieta to get through a good chunk of this contest unscathed. Then, there's not much solace to take in whomever enters after him, as the Phillies' bullpen has been beaten upon all season even worse than Miami's.
Whichever team can figure out relief pitching for the evening will be better off tonight and moving forward in this marathon series. Thanks to Miami having the starting pitching edge, look for bettors to skew toward the Marlins' spread and moneyline.
Regarding the run total, it's a little above the MLB standard, which makes sense due to the bullpen struggles on both sides. Look for the majority of wagers to hammer the Over in anticipation of a fun, high-scoring divisional duel.
Note: Odds current as of 1:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 10.
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