Sunday Night Baseball Betting Preview: Can Giants Gain Ground on Phillies in NL Wild Card Race?
Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: San Francisco Giants center fielder Kevin Pillar (1) celebrates at Oracle Park.
Sunday Night Baseball Betting Odds: Philadelphia Phillies at San Francisco Giants
- Phillies odds: -108
- Giants odds: -102
- Over/Under: 9
- Probable starters: Jake Arrieta (8-8, 4.41 ERA) vs. Conner Menez (0-1, 5.73 ERA)
- First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET on ESPN
>> All odds as of 3 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time MLB odds and track your bets
The Phillies (60-57) and Giants (58-60) have played six times in 2019, with each taking three games; befitting for a couple of clubs in the thick of the NL Wild Card race.
While the Phillies have outscored the Giants by two runs in their head-to-head meetings, both teams have a negative run differential on the season, sub .500 expected records, and losing records against winning clubs.
The Giants went 19-6 in July, moving from expected sellers around the all-star break into a holding pattern by the trading deadline, but they are off to a 3-7 start in August and are now four games off of the Wild card pace.
The Phillies are only 1.5 games back of the Nationals and Brewers for a Wild Card spot, but they are 27-33 since the beginning of June and have mostly pitched their way out of contention – with a team FIP (4.99) that ranks as the third-worst in MLB.
The odds on this game essentially turns the moneyline into a pick’em. So who has the edge in what oddsmakers figure will be a coin toss on Sunday night?
Let’s begin with Jake Arrieta, who was one of the most dominant pitchers on the planet as recently as 2015 when he won the NL Cy Young with the Cubs.
Arrieta’s 2.35 FIP in 2015 still ranks as the 11th best pitching season by a starter since 2003 (in between 2003 Pedro Martinez and 2004 Randy Johnson), but the decline since then has been swift:
By the end of 2016, Arrieta’s fastball velocity was already two ticks below his average velocity from 2015, and he hasn’t settled on a consistent pitch mix since.
Of note this season, Arrieta is throwing more changeups (18.6%) and fewer combined curveballs and cutters or sliders than ever before:
Arrieta still generates a good number of groundballs (51.8%) and for a pitcher who has only allowed 0.92 home runs per nine innings for his career, one would expect his rate of 1.36 HR/9 in 2019 to regress.
But he also owns the worst swinging-strike rate amongst qualified pitchers this season and had the second-worst rate in 2018, so there isn’t much for Arrieta to fall back on when he can’t hit his spots.
I previewed Conner Menez on July 21, but for a quick primer note that he’s high-strikeout lefty with some command issues, whose fastball plays better than its velocity due to its spin rate.
Menez also prefers his changeup and slider to his curveball as secondary pitches. Notice how he changes the eye level with his fastball and changeup:
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) July 22, 2019
There is a huge discrepancy in bullpen quality in this matchup:
The Giants bullpen ranks second in MLB with a 3.92 FIP fourth with a 4.19 xFIP, and eighth with a 15.8% strikeout minus walk rate.
The Phillies bullpen ranks 27th, 15th, and 18th under the same categories, as they have been beset by injuries including to expected key arms in David Robertson, Seranthony Dominguez, and Pat Neshek.
Both bullpens should be fairly rested heading into tonight’s game, with the Giants bullpen in slightly better shape.
Will Smith has thrown twice in the past three games, but he didn’t pitch this week prior to Thursday. Based upon regular rest, Jandel Gustave would likely be the pitcher the Giants would want to use only if necessary.
The Phillies have used lefty Jose Alvarado for each of the past two days, and they have also gone to some of their longer relievers in Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Ranger Suarez for multiple innings this week.
But both teams have an off day on Monday, so expect to see a relatively quick hook from both managers tonight.
Paul Nauert is a relatively neutral umpire, with a slight lean to the under in his career.
The under has gone 228-213 (51.7%, +4.5 units) and home teams have a 246-215 record (53.4%, -17 units) with Nauert as the plate umpire during the regular season.
Teams have averaged 8.2 runs scored in those games.
Trend to Know
When he starts with his team coming off of a loss, Arrieta is 72-50 (59%, for his career. Since his first start in 2010, he’s the seventh most profitable pitcher (+$1,393) in this spot, though just 14-12 with the Phillies — Evan Abrams
The Giants are 27-11 (71%) in one-run games, which would rank alongside three different Orioles teams as one of the best marks ever in close contests. — Sean Zerillo
I projected the Giants as a slight -104/+104 favorite in this game and projected the game total for 8.75 runs. Therefore, I don’t see much value in either side or the total.
However, I mentioned how Arrieta has an MLB-low whiff rate, so I do think that the wisest bet would be to play against his strikeout number, which is listed at 4.5
Arrieta has only faced an average of 21.2 batters over his past five starts, compared to an average of 26.2 batters in the 17 starts prior to that, and it appears as though the Phillies might now be limiting his exposure.