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Wednesday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Braves: Max Fried Looks To Put Away Aaron Nola, Philly In NL East Race (Sept. 29)

Wednesday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Braves: Max Fried Looks To Put Away Aaron Nola, Philly In NL East Race (Sept. 29) article feature image

Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: Max Fried and Travis d’Arnaud.

  • The Braves are favored in another key NL East matchup with the Phillies tonight.
  • Max Fried vs. Aaron Nola will determine if Philadelphia has any hope of getting back in the division race.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of the matchup, including a betting pick.

Phillies vs. Braves Odds

Phillies Odds +125
Braves Odds -145
Over/Under 8
Time 7:20 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The Phillies aren’t mathematically out of the NL East race yet, but Tuesday night’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta lowered the magic number three and made it near impossible for Philadelphia to end its 10-year playoff drought.

The Phillies’ offense hasn’t scored a run without help from an error since Saturday and now they’ll face one of the hottest pitchers in the NL in lefty Max Fried. Philadelphia counters with Aaron Nola, who has had a down year by his standards and received plenty of ire from the Philadelphia fanbase despite his underlying numbers being as good as ever and running into mostly bad luck and variance with runners on base this season.

With Fried and Nola both underrated, and the Phillies offense slumping, runs will be hard to come by in the first five innings of this game.

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Phillies’ Offense Slumping At The Worst Possible Time

Philadelphia’s lineup has scored one run in its last 20 innings, and it came after a Braves error in the ninth inning on Tuesday. The lineup has only mustered nine hits in its last 18 innings, the worst time for the Phillies to lose back-to-back games when they need every game to try to catch Atlanta in the division.

The Phillies have struggled to consistently produce runs against lefties as they rank 17th in wRC+ at 98. They rank top 10 in strikeout rate and just 15th in ISO, suggesting they’re striking out a lot and not making up for it in the power numbers. A middling offense against a recently elite pitcher suggests that even if Joe Girardi loads up the lineup with righties, they won’t be scoring much off Fried.

Nola’s 2021 season is a fascinating one from a statistical point of view. Nola’s top-line ERA of 4.64 is really bad, but all of his underlying metrics suggest he’s been the same pitcher as always. The Phillies’ right-hander has a 3.38 FIP, 3.30 xFIP and 3.38 xERA.

Nola’s 66.8% strand rate is well below league average and one of the worst in the league among regular starters. His hard-hit rate is lower than last season and his K/BB rate is the third best in all of baseball. There’s just no reason Nola shouldn’t positively regress, but this is his last start of 2021.

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Fried Is An Ace For The Braves

There’s no more important development for the Braves’ playoff chances than the second-half resurgence of Fried, who has looked a lot more like 2020 Fried compared to the first half of the season. His 4.71 first-half ERA was followed by a stint on the injured list.

In the second half? He has a 1.78 ERA and a .535 OPS allowed. He’s allowed zero runs in his last 16 innings against the Padres and Giants, including a complete game shutout in his last outing. Fried gives the Braves a good 1-2-3 starting rotation punch along with Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson.

His fastball, curve and slider pitch mix all have excellent negative run values and he’s mostly ditched using a sinker that was hit hard when used. Fried has returned to his ace form from 2020.

The Braves’ offense has had middling success against Nola in 24 career games against him, and despite their recent resurgence in the second half of the season, they still rank just 13th for the year in wRC+. Far from an elite offense.

Phillies-Braves Pick

Given Nola’s positive regression indicators and Fried’s recent elite form, this first five total should be lined at 4, not 4.5. Philadelphia has had little success hitting good lefties this season and Nola eventually needs some luck to break his way with runners on base and two outs.

Anything at 4 (even) or -120 or better at 4.5 runs is good value on the under in the first five innings. Both bullpens are a bit shaky, especially in middle relief, so I’ll avoid them and take the first five under.

Pick: First five innings under 4.5 (-120)

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