Phillies vs. Braves MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia in First 5 Innings (Wednesday, August 3)

Phillies vs. Braves MLB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Back Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia in First 5 Innings (Wednesday, August 3) article feature image

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies vs. Braves Odds

Phillies Odds-135
Braves Odds+115
Time12:20 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

After their bullpen game did not go to plan in Game 1, the Philadelphia Phillies are now able to bring in the big guns by turning to their ace, Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler has been one of the best pitchers in baseball as he holds a 2.19 ERA since May. The strength of the Phillies team has been its starting rotation, with Wheeler leading the way at the top. That is why Philadelphia was a buyer at the MLB trade deadline.

The Phillies made subtle improvements to the rest of their squad and are now ready to make one more playoff push. That push has to start today as the Phillies enter Wednesday's game 10 games out of first in the NL East.

One team in front of Philly in the standings is the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta used the deadline to further sharpen their iron, which has been its pitching staff. The Braves acquired starter Jake Odorizzi to shore up the back end of the rotation, and the team acquired Rasiel Iglesias to be another lights-out option in the bullpen.

The Braves are riding high after a 13-1 victory yesterday, but this early afternoon getaway game is where they could be caught looking ahead. The Braves have a massive five-game series on tap with the New York Mets, who are 2.5 games in front of them.

Expect Philly to Hit Morton Hard

While Charlie Morton has been much better the last two months, his most recent outing came against this same Phillies lineup just a week ago. The Phillies tagged Morton for four runs on five hits and knocked him out of the game after five innings.

Morton has just about reached his expected statistics as his 4.34 ERA is not far off from his 4.07 FIP. We now know what to expect from Morton in his age 38 season. He still has great swing-and-miss stuff, ranking in the top 30% of the majors in strikeout and whiff rate.

However, when contact is made, it's generally hard. Morton is amongst the bottom half of the league in average exit velocity allowed and hard-hit rate. Along with that, he also ranks in the bottom 25% in barrel rate.

Hard contact has been a theme for the Phillies. They currently have seven men in their order with above-average hard hit rates. With the Phillies recently seeing the ball well from Morton, don't be surprised if they get on the board early.

Look for Wheeler to Cool off Atlanta's Hot Bats

The Braves have been a well-oiled machine during the last two months — led by a cast of players having career years. Austin Riley just earned himself a massive extension. In addition, Dansby Swanson and William Contreras have stepped up and made this Braves lineup a constant threat from top to bottom.

However, Zack Wheeler has been one of the few players to quiet this lineup during the course of his career. Wheeler has compiled 179 at-bats against the Braves' projected lineup. Thus far, they are hitting just .235 with a .289 wOBA and a 31.7% strikeout percentage.

Those numbers include containing the likes of Austin Riley, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Dansby Swanson to averages under .260. We've already seen Wheeler put together two quality starts against Atlanta this season. In 13 innings of work, he's allowed five runs on 13 hits and has struck out 18. Given this early afternoon start, I expect Wheeler to be more ready than the Braves bats in the early going.

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Phillies vs. Braves Pick

The matchup has everything you want in an underdog play. First, the Phillies have their ace going, who's being very underpriced. They are facing a pitcher who they have seen recently and hit hard the last time out.

Lastly, this is an early afternoon game for a team that just won by a blowout last night. Not to mention, Atlanta has one of its biggest series of the season starting tomorrow.

Back the Phillies to be up halfway through this one as all of those edges come to fruition in the early innings.

Pick: Phillies F5 ML +125

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