Thursday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Diamondbacks vs. Phillies: Can Both Offenses Rally? (August 26)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies.
- The Diamondbacks and Phillies face off Thursday in a matchup of two teams in need of a win.
- Arizona is are one of the worst teams in baseball and Philadelphia is losing ground in the NL East race.
- Tanner McGrath details below why he's target the total between the two struggling clubs.
Diamondbacks vs. Phillies Odds
|Time||7:05 p.m. ET|
Thursday’s lower-end matchup involves a battle of “Zac’s”, as Zac Gallen will take the mound against Zach Eflin.
Unfortunately, both starting pitchers have combined for a 5-14 record, and both teams continue to slip into irrelevance. Arizona has fallen 42 games under .500, while Philadelphia has fallen five games back of the National League East.
If the Phillies expect to have any chance to catch the Braves down the stretch, they need to start by beating the dreadful Diamondbacks in this series. Something the Phillies failed to do last time these two teams met, when the Diamondbacks swept them in Arizona.
So, do the Diamondbacks have the Phillies’ number? Or will Philadelphia bounce back today? Let’s dig in.
Poor Offense Has Hindered the Diamondbacks
Not only do the Diamondbacks have the worst record in MLB, but they’ve also been the least profitable team in baseball all season:
Lately, they’ve been merely below average. The Diamondbacks have posted a 5-5 record over the past 30 days, recorded MLB’s 23rd best offense via wRC+ (91), and recorded MLB’s 21st best pitching staff via FIP (4.63).
The offensive bright spots have included catcher Carson Kelly, who’s posted a 122 OPS+ this season, and CF Ketel Marte, who’s batting .350 with a .956 OPS during his injury riddled season (missed April 7 to May 19).
However, the lineup as a whole is one of the worst in the league. And while they’ve posted only the seventh worst wOBA (.303) in MLB, they’ve posted the third worst xwOBA (.296). It’s hard to get lucky and still be terrible.
On the pitching side of things, the Diamondbacks were hoping to insert Zac Gallen back into the lineup in late June and pair him with a resurgent Madison Bumgarner, thus creating a respectable rotation. That hasn’t happened.
Following two straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA, Gallen has posted a 4.59 this season. However, his expected statistics have largely remained the same, as he’s posted a 3.92 xFIP this season compared to 3.91 for his career.
Gallen throws a four-seam fastball roughly 60% of the time, and it’s been effective. Batters have posted just a .207 BA with a .269 wOBA on the pitch, and Gallen’s allowed just an 88.4 mph average exit velocity on 696 four-seamers thrown.
However, the rest of his arsenal has been getting lit up. Especially his slider and cutter, as he throws the two about 20% of the time and has allowed a wOBA above .450 on the two pitches combined.
Time is Running Out for the Phillies
For a brief moment in time, the Phillies looked like a lock to win the NL East and clinch their first postseason appearance in nine years.
Following a recent 3-7 stretch – at the same time Atlanta went 8-2 – the Phillies sit with a .500 record and are five games back in the division. The Phillies’ playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread, as Baseball Reference has them with a 17.6% chance of making the postseason.
During Philadelphia’s “brief moment in time”, hopes were high. The Phillies had the lead in the division, had acquired Kyle Gibson, and had the easiest remaining schedule of any team in MLB.
The Phillies still have the easiest remaining schedule (-0.6 rSOS on Baseball Reference), but it’s questionable if their roster can win enough games. The Phillies recently got swept by these Diamondbacks, lost a series to the Reds, and got walloped by the Rays.
Things seem to center around the offense, which has posted just a .313 wOBA and a 91 wRC+ over the past 30 days. While Bryce Harper is still cooking (.284/.426/.703/1.128 this month), JT Realmuto is slumping (batting .192 over his past 15 games) and the Phillies desperately need Realmuto’s production.
Meanwhile, the pitching staff has been just league average over the past 30 days (4.20 FIP, 16th in MLB). Zack Wheeler has been immense, but Aaron Nola has not been his regular self (4.33 ERA) and the Phillies are still relying on Matt Moore (5.93 ERA) and Chase Anderson (6.75 ERA) to make quality starts. Hopefully, Kyle Gibson can be the savior in Philadelphia, but I’m not so sure.
Today’s starter, Zach Eflin, will be making his first start off the IL in a month (July 16). Eflin’s been largely average (96 ERA+) but is due for some positive regression (3.92 xERA, 3.61 xFIP).
Eflin is a pure sinker ball pitcher, something he started throwing more in 2019. His ground ball rate went up in 2020 (47.5%) but has dropped way down this season (43.5%), but his batted ball statistics have remained largely the same.
While Eflin has shown better control, dropping his walk rate to 1.36 BB/9 this season compared to 2.24 for his career, his strikeouts have taken a hit as well. While he struck out over 10 batters per nine in 11 starts last year, that number is down to 8.43.
Over the past 30 days, both the Diamondbacks and Phillies have posted bottom 10 offenses. However, I’m projecting these offenses to struggle even more than expected today.
Over the past month, the Diamondbacks have posted an 84 wRC+ and a .683 OPS on the road. Meanwhile, in that same timeframe, the Phillies have posted an 85 wRC+ and a .694 OPS at home – something that is quite surprising considering the Phillies bats tend to heat up at home.
Meanwhile, we have two starting pitchers begging for positive regression, and it might prove to be a “get-right” spot for two pitchers that have struggled with injuries all season.
Between two slumping offenses and two potential breakout pitching performances, I like the under 8.5 in this spot. All three games between these two have gone under this season, so I feel quite comfortable with under 8.5 at even money.
Pick: Under 8.5 (+100)