Phillies vs Astros Expert Picks Today | Monday MLB Betting Preview & Prediction (October 3)
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber
- Philadelphia vs. Houston is one of the marquee games of Monday's MLB slate.
- The Phillies could likely secure a postseason spot with a win against the Astros and starter Lance McCullers.
- Nicholas Martin has a prop bet for the game involving Kyle Schwarber, which he details below.
Phillies vs. Astros Odds
|Over/Under||7.5 (-102 / -120)|
|Time||8:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
Monday’s most intriguing MLB matchup will pit the Phillies against the Astros, as a Philadelphia win would wrap up the final wild-card berth in the NL and end what is now baseball’s longest playoff drought with the Mariners having clinched.
The Phillies will feel confident in their chances with Aaron Nola set to make the big start, though they’ll still enter as underdogs facing off against Lance McCullers and one of the best lineups in baseball.
Let’s review what could be the important handicapping notes for what should be a fun one.
Philadelphia Phillies Anxious to Get it Over
Any Brewers loss or Phillies win will wrap up MLB’s lone remaining playoff race, and according to oddsmakers, there’s just a 39% chance of both the Phillies losing and Milwaukee winning today, with a parlay of the two set at roughly +160.
Getting it over with tonight would be a massive boost to the Phillies, not just to ease the hearts of a troubled fanbase, but to allow manager Rob Thomson the ability to rest his top arms in preparation for a three-game Wild Card Game matchup with the Padres.
Aaron Nola has been one of the better starters in the NL this season, entering this contest with an ERA of 3.36 through nearly 200 innings, and an xERA of just 2.81.
Nola’s strong play continued in September, in which he posted a 2.93 ERA with a WHIP of just 1.05.
Offensively the Phillies have been in strong form over the last 30 days with a sixth-best league-wide wRC+ of 113 during that span, and personally, I believe the Phillies could be quietly dangerous from the final wild-card spot in the NL.
The batting order could be particularly dangerous if Bryce Harper can really hit his stride, and the trio of Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez could be a very tough out in the wild card, which is another comment on how big a win today would be, as Suarez is set to pitch tomorrow.
Kyle Schwarber broke out with a massive performance over the weekend against Washington, hitting 6-for-10 with two home runs.
Schwarber has been elite versus right-handed pitching again this season, with a slug rate of .549 throughout 377 at-bats, and could be in a good spot to build on his late push Monday.
McCullers a Surprise for Houston Astros
Lance McCullers will return to the mound on extra rest after being scratched due to illness versus the Diamondbacks last Tuesday.
After a late start to the season due to injury, McCullers has been consistently strong, with a 2.38 ERA, albeit through just 41.2 innings, and with an xERA of 3.57 significantly beyond his actual mark, and an xFIP of 3.67.
McCullers has also pitched against a very weak slate of competition, with his innings coming against teams averaging 18.7th place in league rankings by wRC+ versus right-handed pitching.
McCullers stuff has also rated a fair bit below league average, particularly for a starter with elite results. His QOPA sits at just 4.29, which is somewhat surprising even if not a massive indicator of success.
McCullers has not been nearly dominant as his ERA suggests this season, and Philadelphia could have a decent chance to mount some offense in this spot in the early innings.
Beyond that, it’s hard to say that Houston should be looking to hand many innings to its better arms out of the pen, which could be another notable factor.
That makes me lean toward the Phillies as an underdog in this spot, but it’s still intimidating to go against Houston’s ridiculously talented lineup as they tune up for the postseason.
An angle I do feel strongly about is backing Schwarber to continue his strong push down the stretch in this spot, and for me McCullers is simply not an elite enough righty for us to see a well-better-than-average price of +155 for Schwarber to record over 1.5 total bases, especially considering Houston heavily manages its top bullpen arms in this series.
Pick: Kyle Schwarber Over 1.5 Total Bases +155 (Play to +140)