Phillies vs Padres Prediction, Pick for NLCS Game 2

Phillies vs Padres Prediction, Pick for NLCS Game 2 article feature image

Denis Poroy/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Schwarber

  • The Padres are short favorites in NLCS Game 2 tonight against the Phillies.
  • San Diego has Blake Snell on the mound, while Philadelphia will counter with Aaron Nola.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Phillies vs. Padres Game 2 Odds

Phillies Odds+100
Padres Odds-118
Over/Under7 (+102 / -124)
Time4:35 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The Philadelphia Phillies won the first game of the NLCS on Tuesday night when three pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout, and Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber homered.

Zack Wheeler tossed seven shutout innings, Schwarber hit a baseball 488 feet and now the Phillies have stolen home-field advantage in this best-of-seven series.

Wheeler and Wednesday starter Aaron Nola have been the workhorses that have powered the Phillies into the playoffs and carried them once there. Since the start of October — which includes the final start of the regular season for both pitchers — Wheeler and Nola have allowed three earned runs in 43 1/3 combined innings.

San Diego isn't quite in a must-win situation, but the Padres need a quality start from lefty Blake Snell to keep them within touching distance before the series shifts to Philadelphia this weekend.

Snell was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in the second half of the season and allowed one run in five innings against the Dodgers last week, but does he have the advantage over Nola against the Phillies?

Nola Can Lift the Phillies

Nola's underlying numbers suggested all season that he was one of the best pitchers in the entire league. He was the second pitcher in MLB history to finish with more than 230 strikeouts and walk fewer than 30 hitters in a season. Nola has had two major problems — bad execution (and bad luck) with runners in scoring position and playing in front of one of the worse defenses in all of MLB every start.

Both are a major reason Nola underperformed his underlying metrics all regular season. Nola had a 3.25 ERA in the regular season, but a career-low 2.74 xERA, 2.58 FIP and 2.78 xFIP. Among MLB starters, only Jacob deGrom had a better Location+ number for command, per Eno Sarris' model from The Athletic.

He doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but Nola has an elite curveball and gets a ton of arm-side run on his fastball to keep hitters off-balanced. He's finally gotten some good breaks and luck with runners in scoring position in the last three starts and the results have shown to the tune of 19 1/3 innings and zero earned runs allowed.

Teams will not be 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position against him forever, like they've been in his first two playoff starts. But when you never allow anyone to get free bases via the walk, it's extremely difficult to string together hits on Nola.

The Padres are also an excellent matchup for him. San Diego is one of the most patient lineups in the entire league. The Padres have the fifth-lowest swing rate overall and the sixth-lowest chase rate. They have a very patient approach that includes not chasing balls, walking often and waiting for the right pitch to try to slug.

Nola — a command-first pitcher who doesn't miss the zone — can find a ton of success by going right at the Padres' hitters. Similar to Wheeler on Tuesday night, if Nola is locating, there's not much power in this Padres' lineup. San Diego was outside the top 20 in barrels and homers this year.

Padres' Snell a Different Pitcher of Late

Snell made two starts against the Phillies this season, both were before he really figured out his command in the second half of the season. When he pitched in Philadelphia in May, Snell allowed three runs, three hits and walked three in 3 2/3 innings and he wasn't sharp at all.

Snell was cruising in the second outing at home through the first time through the order, but broke Bryce Harper's thumb on an inside pitch in that start. He unraveled in the fifth and sixth and allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Snell has been an entirely different pitcher since the All-Star break though.

April through All-Star Break: 96 Location+ (100 is average),  13.8% BB rate, 15.6% K-BB%, 5.22 ERA, 64.7% strand rate

Since the All-Star Break: 101 Location+, 7.8% BB rate, 25.3 K-BB%, 2.64 ERA, 79% strand rate

Snell improved his command, struck out more batters and was one of the 10 best pitchers in baseball by strikeout minus walk rate (K-BB%) after the All-Star break. It's never been about stuff with the Padres lefty, but how well he can command it.

He has a pretty good matchup with the Phillies because Philadelphia is generally an aggressive lineup that will swing early in counts and chase outside of the zone.

The Phillies swung the bat at the 11th-highest rate in baseball and had the fifth-highest chase rate on pitches outside of the strike zone. If Snell gets ahead in counts early, he will have success against this Phillies lineup.

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Phillies-Padres Pick

San Diego will also have the slightly more rested bullpen in this game because it didn't use Robert Suarez or Josh Hader in Game 1. The Phillies did use their two best relievers — José Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez — even though neither had significant usage and will be available to pitch again in Game 2.

The Padres do have the marginally better bullpen and much better defense in this matchup, which will be true for every game of this series. When you have two elite pitchers like Nola and Snell going at it though, it so often comes down to home runs in the playoffs.

As Sarah Langs points out here, teams who hit more homers in the game are now 38-7 in the last two postseasons. Nola isn't going to give out free passes and the Padres will need more slugging to score.

so far this postseason:

– Teams to score first are 19-7
– Teams to out-homer opponents are 13-5 (25-2 last PS)
– 45.7% of runs have been scored via HR (was 39.8% in '22 RS, 49.0% in '21 PS)

— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 19, 2022

The Phillies had the third-best offense in baseball after the trade deadline against left-handed pitching with a wRC+ of 123. That's considerably better than the Padres were against righties, even after acquiring Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the deadline.

The Padres were eighth against righties in the second half of the year with a wRC+ of 108.

With the better lineup (based on splits and power) and the slightly better pitcher, I'm backing the Phillies to take a 2-0 series lead in the NLCS and move within two games of the World Series.

I would bet them in the first five and full game at anything -105 or better.

Picks: Phillies F5 (+100 at BetMGM) | Phillies ML (+110 at PointsBet)

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