Thursday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Marlins: Spencer Howard, Pablo López Look To Limit Runs (May 27)

Thursday MLB Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Phillies vs. Marlins: Spencer Howard, Pablo López Look To Limit Runs (May 27) article feature image

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Howard

  • The Phillies and Marlins wrap up a series in Miami with a Thursday matinee televised on YouTube.
  • Youngster Spencer Howard takes the mound for a Philadelphia team missing a bunch of offensive pieces.
  • How should you bet this one? Jeff Hicks breaks it down and makes his pick below.

Phillies vs. Marlins Odds

Phillies Odds+133
Marlins Odds-145
Time12:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Thursday morning via PointsBet.

Not much has gone right for the Philadelphia Phillies or Miami Marlins so far in 2021. Injuries and inconsistency have slowed both squads as they meander around .500 in the disappointing NL East.

Both teams turn to promising young pitchers for day baseball on Thursday. Spencer Howard will look to prevent a repeat performance of his first start this season, while Pablo López looks to continue an impressive run of excellent pitching that started with the shortened 2020 season.

Howard will be pitching with a patchwork offense supporting him with starters Didi Gregorius, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper on the 10-day injured list. López is already without Marlins stalwart Brian Anderson and could be without Jazz Chisholm Jr. because of an ankle injury.

Despite the doom and gloom, there is plenty to look at to try and gain a betting edge.

With Philly Offense Injured, It Falls On Howard

Howard has not been good in his brief time in the majors this season. He has the stuff to be an above-average pitcher but has not put it together. Two out of every three pitches thrown in the strike zone have had contact and only 15% of strikes Howard has thrown have resulted in swings and misses. He did not last long against the Boston Red Sox, and one thing the Marlins do not replicate often is the Red Sox offense.

The best way to support any pitcher is by scoring runs. The Phillies have had issues doing so and the road has not been kind. Philadelphia is bottom in slugging, OPS, ISO, and wRC+ against right-handed pitching in road games. The Phillies' top-10 walk rate in the same situation is mitigated some by their 26% strikeout rate, ninth-worst. An elevated Groundball-to-Flyball rate also hurts their league-average Medium and Hard Hit percentage.

There is a lot of bad luck with this offense and the absences of three of their best hitters makes the situation worse. Realmuto and Harper are 1-2 in Offensive WAR for the Phillies and have at least a few more days before either returns.

Howard will be depended on to keep the Phillies close without a lot of firepower.

López Has The Goods For Miami

Miami is trying just as hard to be mediocre-to-bad on offense. Playing at home is supposed to have benefits, but that is something that Marlins are not familiar with. The Marlins are 12th in Hard% at home but only 8% of flyballs have left the yard. It is also difficult to justify saying things will get better. Miami has a top-10 BABIP at home against right-handed pitching and have mustered a 97 wRC+.

Injuries have also changed the look of the Marlins' lineup, but regardless, it's difficult to put up crooked numbers when your best three players are contact hitters. Miguel Rojas, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Starling Marte (16 games) lead the team in Offensive WAR. Their best power options — Jesús Aguilar and Adam Duvall — combine for a 1.8 Offensive WAR and 0.8 overall WAR.

Thank goodness for strong pitching. López has been better than league average according to FIP.- and has been a foundational part of the Miami rotation for second straight season. López is who he is and that is OK. He does not strike out a ton and can allow the occasional walk, but he has limited home runs and his peripherals are not far off from his 2.73 ERA.

The biggest difference for López has been his dependence on his changeup as his second pitch instead of his sinker. His sinker usage is down nearly 10%, a potential concern for his long-term season outlook after his Expected ERA (xERA) and Expected Fielder Independent Pitcher (xFIP) were in line with his ERA last season.

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Phillies-Marlins Pick

It is easy to look at Howard's lone start, a road one, and say Miami is the way to bet. Both offenses are struggling and missing important players and have to face pitchers with stuff that has translated to the majors. Howard can limit the Marlins' bats and has a chance to win if he limits his walks. López can neutralize the Phillies by being himself and dissecting each at-bat.

I see little value in either team's moneyline number and prefer taking under seven runs. At +100, I can tell a tale of the game being ugly with little hard contact and a lot of runners left on base with both pitchers getting no-decisions. The one scenario I do not feel strongly about is the game turning into a run fest. Both teams have top-10 Defensive WAR numbers and can prevent big innings.

Pick: Under 7 Runs (Bet to -110, bet to -125 if total moves to 7.5 runs)

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