Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets Odds, Pick & Preview: Can Phils Get to Max Scherzer?
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Scherzer
- The Mets are home favorites against the Phillies on Sunday Night Baseball.
- With Max Scherzer on the mound, is there value in backing New York?
- Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup and shares his best bet.
Phillies vs. Mets Odds
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
A-Rod has been relegated to ESPN2, but Sunday Night Baseball is back in full force as we reach the fourth edition of 2022.
And how about them Mets!? New York has come out the gates swinging, posting a 15-7 record over their first four games with a division-leading +32 run differential. Not to mention they combined to no-hit the Phillies on Friday night.
Plus, Jacob deGrom is recovering from injury faster than expected and New York has Max Scherzer on the mound Sunday night. LGM indeed.
The Phillies have disappointed in the early going. But there’s plenty of room for positive regression over the next 140 games or so. Philly is still net positive in run differential, so it’s got that going for them.
The Phillies will have Zach Eflin on the mound. He’s no Scherzer, but he’s serviceable.
But Scherzer is a public pitcher and the Mets — right now, anyway — are a public team. New York’s ML is juiced up over -180 for this divisional battle.
Is it worth betting on the other side?
Phillies Lineup Finding Success
The Phillies lineup is mostly off to a good start. They’re hitting slightly above average (106 wRC++) and production has jumped slightly on the road this season (109 road wRC+).
While the Phillies’ BABIP is relatively high (.302, eighth in MLB), there could be room for some positive regression. Baseball Savant lists the Phillies’ xBA (.268) a full 20 points higher than their current average (.246).
The Phillies also are one of the top teams in hard-hit rate, with their 43.2% mark ranking fourth in MLB.
After starting the year in a 4-for-29 slump, Bryce Harper is again lighting the world on fire. But he’s doing it from the DH spot, rather than his normal right field position.
Back in early April, Harper fired a ball home from the outfield and his elbow came up limp. He tried a few more stints in the corner but has been the Phillies DH now in 12 straight games.
After the throw to home plate, Bryce Harper grabbed his right elbow and looked in pain pic.twitter.com/tQ7Fh93yiw
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) April 12, 2022
During that stretch, Harper is slashing .340/.360/.596, good for a 168 wRC+ in this run-impoverished MLB environment.
But his approach is confounding. Harper is hacking away, as his walk rate is down below 8%. Comparatively, his career BB% is 15.1% and this would be the lowest mark of his career.
During this stretch at DH, Harper has walked once in 50 PAs. That’s staggering for a plate discipline guru like Harper.
When he does make contact, it’s been hard (96th percentile in avg. exit velocity) and the hits have come in bunches. But keep a close eye on this trend, because I doubt he’ll post a .400-plus BABIP over a full 162 games.
The target date to get Harper back in right field is early May, which is more important than you think.
That’s because Nick Castellanos is a defensive disaster. He’s posted a career -49 defensive runs saved (DRS) and the Phillies as a whole rank 21st in that stat in the early going (-2).
And guess what? The Phillies are 22nd in ERA (4.08) but 13th in FIP (3.75). Defense matters.
Starting pitcher: Zach Eflin (RHP)
Eflin has been fine. He blew up in a start against Miami (4 ER, 4 IP) but has kept his ERA and xFIP well below 4.00.
Eflin’s strikeout rate is way down (6.86 K/9), but projections have that number bouncing back closer to his career average (7.49 K/9). So, I’m not too worried about that.
What’s surprising is Eflin’s xERA is down below 2.50. His batted-ball profile is elite, and every single meaningful statistic has seen drastic improvement from 2021.
Eflin’s avg. exit velocity allowed is a full four points below his career average (87.8 mph). It ranks in the 95th percentile of qualified starters. Has he just replaced strikeouts with soft contact?
I’m not sure what exactly Eflin is doing differently. His sinker rate is down over the past few seasons and he’s introduced a cutter into his arsenal (10.1% of the time). But the cutter has an average exit velocity of 94 mph, so it’s not contributing to the cause.
I think it’s the slightly increased usage of his curveball and changeup, both of which have suppressed hard contact. But four starts is too small of a sample size to make sweeping generalizations.
If Eflin continues this level of production, that Philadelphia rotation is going to look pretty enticing for bettors.
Despite Great Results, Mets Overachieving
I mean, this is awesome and all. But Mets fans need to come back to earth at some point.
The Mets rank among the bottom three teams in average exit velocity (87.1 mph) and hard-hit rate (33.6%). They’re next to the Reds and Pirates. The barrel rate (6.2%) is slightly higher but still sits among the bottom ten.
The Mets’ .398 wOBA is paired with a .328 xwOBA. That’s a 70-point overperformance through 20 games.
That’s not sustainable.
What is sustainable is their plate discipline. The Mets are second-to-last in strikeout rate (20.1%). They’re also top-10 in zone contact rate (82.2%), first in chase contact rate (63.3%), and have the lowest whiff rate in the league (23%).
Three of the Mets’ regular nine-man lineup have double-digit walks already this season (Francisco Lindor, Eduardo Escobar, Brandon Nimmo). Oh, and the Mets lead the league in HBP (19).
Lindor is bouncing back and has posted a whopping 243 wRC+ at home this year (and a 1.163 OPS). Jeff McNeil has been leading the charge as well with his .900 OPS.
Starting pitcher: Max Scherzer (RHP)
There’s not much to say about Scherzer.
He’s elite. He’s pitched 25 innings over four starts this season with an ERA south of 2.00 and an xFIP south of 2.90.
In those 25 innings, Scherzer has struck out 33 batters and posted a ridiculous .76 WHIP.
There’s nothing else to say about Scherzer that hasn’t already been said. He’s just a Met now.
Max Scherzer in his last two outings: #LGM
14.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 20 K.
Mad Max has a 1.80 ERA in 2022. So glad he’s ours. 👀🔥👀 pic.twitter.com/YonFMFdVRb
— GENY Mets Report (@genymets) April 26, 2022
Expect a steady dose of four-seam fastballs (44.6% of the time) with a slider and changeup mixed in. But it doesn’t really matter what Scherzer throws, because he can beat any batter in MLB with it.
Scherzer is seasoned but his velocity and spin rate haven’t dropped. As a result, he’s generally just better than any hitter he faces.
Good luck, Philadelphia.
I don’t really wish to bet this game.
However, if I had to pick a side, it would be Philly.
While Scherzer is an unstoppable force, Eflin has shown upside that was unforeseen before 2022. Especially considering his specialty is suppressing hard contact, which could come into play considering the Mets haven’t smashed the ball yet this season.
Moreover, New York’s offense is clearly due for negative regression while Philadelphia’s is due for some positive. The Mets’ offense is just overvalued at this juncture of the season.
The bullpen advantage is firmly with New York. But there’s no reason to bet the Mets at heavier than -170.
Instead, I’d look towards the other side and bet the upside with the divisional-rival Phillies.
If you can get better than +160 on Philadelphia, the Phillies are clearly worth a look on Sunday night. There’s a +160 at Caesars as of Sunday morning.
Pick: Pass | Phillies +160 or better
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