Zerillo’s Mets-Phillies Betting Guide: Can Marcus Stroman Push Mets Toward Wild Card?

Zerillo’s Mets-Phillies Betting Guide: Can Marcus Stroman Push Mets Toward Wild Card? article feature image
Credit:

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marcus Stroman

Betting Odds: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

Probable starters: Marcus Stroman (7-12, 3.29 ERA) vs. Zach Eflin (8-11, 4.50 ERA)

  • Mets odds:  -115
  • Phillies odds: +105
  • Over/Under:  9.5
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET on ESPN

Odds above as of 3:30 p.m. ET and via PointsBet

The Mets (69-66) and Phillies (69-65) are both within four games of an NL Wild Card spot, fighting for space alongside the Diamondbacks (70-66) and Brewers (69-66) for position behind the current leaders, the Cubs (73-62) and Nationals (76-58).

The Phillies lead the Mets, 9-6, in their season series, outscoring their rival by 16 runs, but the Mets have a +20 run differential on the year, while the Phillies are -17. That’s an improvement for Philly of just 34 runs vs. 2018 after signing Bryce Harper to one of the biggest contracts in sports history.

Which team has the advantage on Sunday night as these two teams play what amounts to a must-win game in a tight playoff hunt?

Below I’ll analyze each team’s starters and bullpens, before looking at the umpires, the weather and sharing my betting approach for the night.

The Starters

Notice that, at the base level, these two starters own similar control over the strike zone (Stroman’s K% and BB% are each roughly 1% higher), and nearly identical batted ball data in terms of average exit velocity and hard-hit rates.

However, the launch angle against Stroman’s pitches (5.1 degrees; career 1.2) is significantly lower than Eflin’s (12.4 degrees; career 12.7) – leading to a career 59% groundball rate for Stroman, compared to a 41.4% rate for Eflin.

Stroman is excellent at avoiding the barrel of the bat (4.4%, top 7% among pitchers), allowing a career 0.83 home runs per nine innings (HR/9). Due to the groundball difference, Eflin has a HR/9 rate of 1.52, despite a home run per flyball rate that is just 0.5% higher than Stroman’s.

The two align in terms of arsenal development, as both have continually increased their slider usage in recent seasons.

Stroman has decreased his four-seam fastball usage by around 20% since 2017 while bumping his combined cutter and slider usage by nearly 30:

Stroman is a master of deception, adding and subtracting to his pitches and altering his timing to the plate. It was inevitable that he would also figure out how to optimize his arsenal, using his best pitch as often as possible:

Eflin has also increased his own rate of sliders by more than 20% since 2017, which makes sense considering that it’s his only offering that has returned a positive pitch value.

However, the swinging strike rate on Eflin’s slider has taken a 7 percentage-point dip over last year, down from 28.2% to 21.8%.

Meanwhile, Stroman has increased the whiff rate on his slider by 3.3% over 2018, to an elite rate of 36%. For context, Clayton Kershaw has a swinging strike rate of 34% on his slider.

The Bullpens

Bullpen quality has been a big issue in the National League East this season; all five clubs rank 18th or lower in FIP, and 15th or lower in xFIP.

However, the Mets bullpen has the best xFIP (3.81) and strikeout-minus-walk rate (20.7%) in baseball since the trade deadline, while the Phillies rank 11th and 20th respectively.

Fireman Seth Lugo (2 IP on Saturday, 1 IP on Thursday) and lefty Justin Wilson (pitched two straight days) are likely unavailable for the Mets.

Jose Alvarez (pitched two straight days), Jared Hughes (five appearances this week) and Blake Parker (2 IP on Saturday) seem likely to be held back by the Phillies.

Umpire and Weather Report

Data per Sports Insights

Trends to Know

Overs in NL East divisional games are 89-71-12 (55.6%, +12.8 units, 7.5% ROI) in 2019. However, all of that profit has come in Miami and New York (44-24-6) as the other three parks have been 50/50 bets.

The under is 71-63-7 (53%, +4.39 units) in Marcus Stroman’s career. Meanwhile, Zach Eflin is 37-31 (54.4%, +3.67 units) to the over.

Favorite Bet

I projected this game as a coinflip, listing the Phillies as a 50.5% favorite, so I don’t see value on either side based upon the current line. I projected the total for 9.22 runs, and also don’t see value on the total of 9.5.

Based upon the bullpen situations of these two teams, I might look to play a live over; but I won’t have a pre-game wager on this important divisional contest.