MLB Picks Today | Phillies vs. Cubs Betting Preview (Thursday, September 29)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos
- The Cubs look to make it a 3-0 sweep over the Phillies in today's series finale and matinee game.
- The Phillies are in a skid and at risk of letting a wild-card spot slip away.
- Alex Hinton explains below why he's targeting a team-total bet for the game.
Phillies vs. Cubs Odds
|Time||2:20 p.m. ET|
|Odds via WynnBET. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
On Thursday afternoon, the Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs will conclude their three-game series at Wrigley Field. The matchup features one team fighting to make the playoffs and another that has long been thinking about next season. However, you may not be able to tell which team is which based on the first two games of this series.
The Cubs have taken the first two games by a final of 2-1 on Tuesday and 4-2 last night. The Cubs improved to 69-86 on the season and have won seven of their last 10 games.
For the Phillies, the loss was their four straight and seventh in their last 10 games. The Phillies are clinging to the third wild card spot in the NL and hold a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee hosts the Marlins on Thursday night, meaning the team will know it can move in front of Philadelphia should it slip up again. Will the Phillies bats step up and help the team maintain its playoff standing?
Phillies Offense Gets Boost With Castellanos Return
The Phillies will send Ranger Suarez to the mound to snap its losing skid. The left-hander is 10-5 with a 3.38 ERA and has nearly been a 3-win pitcher, accumulating a 2.8 WAR. He has enjoyed pitching away from Citizen Banks Park as he is 6-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 14 road starts this season. He ranks in the 80 percentile in Average Exit Velocity and the 85th percentile in Hard Hit Percentage.
Suarez being on the mound will give the Phillies a good chance to win. However, starting pitching has not been the problem of late. The team has scored just three runs in this series. It has also scored three runs or fewer in four of its last six games. Philadelphia is hitting just .216 with runners in scoring position in that span.
The Phillies have gotten a boost from getting Nick Castellanos back in the lineup. Before going down with an oblique injury, he was swinging a hot bat, and he is 4-for-7 in this series. Castellanos is now hitting .333 with five home runs, 14 runs batted in, and a .870 OPS.
Rhys Hoskins reached base four times last night in a 3-for-4 performance. He is hitting .345 with a home run, four runs batted in, and a 1.027 OPS over his last seven games.
However, Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and JT Realmuto are all hitting .214 or below with just four home runs combined over the last seven games.
Philadelphia has not seen today's Cubs starter before, but there is reason to believe it will have success against him.
Cubs Rookie Assad Regressing?
Rookie Javier Assad has made just seven appearances (six starts) in the big leagues since his August call-up. Over his first five appearances, he allowed one run or fewer in four of them. He posted a 2.53 ERA in that span, but even then there were signs regression was coming. Assad had a 4.06 FIP and 1.40 WHIP in that span.
Assad allows a lot of traffic on the basepaths. He deserves credit for dancing out of danger, but eventually, it will lead to him getting burned. As a result, Assad has now allowed four runs in three of his last four starts.
He is now 1-2, and his ERA has ballooned to 4.28 on the year. Assad has a 36.5% Hard Hit Percentage and a 13.6% Walk Rate, which are both above the league average. He is also below average with an 18.4% Strikeout Percentage.
If Assad struggles again, his offense will need to pick up the slack. The Cubs have not seen much of Ranger Suarez, and of those who have faced him, only Alfonso Rivas has a hit against him. However, fellow rookie Christoper Morel has homered in back-to-back games, and he has six runs batted in over his last seven games. Nico Hoerner is hitting .360 over his last seven games, and Wilson Contreras has five home runs over his last 15 games, though he is hitting just .185 in that span.
Philadelphia's offense has struggled of late, but it has the opportunity to break out against Assad. He has allowed four runs in three of his last four starts. He also has 17 walks in 27.1 innings and has surrendered two or more walks in five of his six starts. The Phillies are tied for the seventh most walks in the league over the last week.
As a result, I will be fading Assad and targeting Philadelphia's team total. The Phillies should be able to put a lot of men on base against him. Even last night, the team had 11 hits.
The key will be capitalizing with runners in scoring position. Assad has failed to reach the fifth inning in either of his last two starts. Philadelphia could get five runs off of him early, but I like its chances against the Cubs bullpen as well.
Pick: Phillies Team Total Over 4.5 runs