Phillies vs Pirates Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Saturday, July 29

Phillies vs Pirates Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Saturday, July 29 article feature image

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Nola

Phillies vs. Pirates Odds

Saturday, July 29
7:05 p.m. ET
Phillies Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
+100 / -122
Pirates Odds
MoneylineTotalRun Line
+100 / -122
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.
Check out our MLB Betting Hub for more previews from today's slate.

The Phillies won a pitchers' duel in the first game of their three-game series in Pittsburgh as Kyle Schwarber's two-run homer aided Zack Wheeler's dominant start in a 2-1 victory against Mitch Keller and the Pirates.

The Phillies turn to their No. 2 starter on Saturday night as Aaron Nola faces off against Pirates rookie starter Quinn Priester.

The Pirates have embraced their youth movement of late — including the decision to start five rookies all with fewer than 120 MLB plate appearances in Friday night's game. The offense becomes harder to project as a result of the rookie inclusions, but it also makes them more prone to the strikeout when facing top-end MLB stuff that many haven't seen before in their careers.

The Phillies' offense continues to sputter even with Kyle Schwarber on base in all five of his Friday night at-bats, but all of the main high-leverage arms are also available out of the bullpen behind Nola.

Given the improvements in Nola's stuff as the season has progressed, I'm targeting a strikeout prop on Saturday night.

Philadelphia Phillies

Nola has openly commented in the past about his preference to pitch in warmer and more humid conditions. Given the 84% humidity and mid-80s temperatures in Pittsburgh, Nola won't be as effected from a durability and stamina perspective as pitchers less comfortable pitching in those conditions.

He's also openly commented about his early season struggles in adjusting to the pitch clock and that's evident in his numbers. His decline in season-long strikeout rate looks concerning at the surface, but a deeper dive into the rolling strikeout rate paints a rosier picture. Nola had a velocity dip on his fastball early in the year and wasn't as sharp.

As the weather has warmed, he's adjusted to the clock and reached back for more velocity and the strikeouts are back near an elite level. When you combine that with elite command, you get a pitcher that should have no issues with a rookie-laden Pirates lineup.

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Pittsburgh Pirates

It's hard to establish a proper strikeout rate for a lot of the Pirates lineup, but we can use projections as an aide to guide the outlook.

Jack Suwinski should be the Pirates' leadoff hitter and he is the highest projected K rate on the roster, north of 30% for the rest of the season. Ji-Man Choi will hit high in the order and he's 27% in most projections.

Nola is almost guaranteed if effective to face at least 25 hitters, which he's done in 15 of 21 starts this season. That means three matchups with Suwinski, Choi and Jared Triolo, who is filling in for the injured Ke'Bryan Hayes. Nick Gonzales also could face Noal three times with his 29% rest of year strikeout projection.

The sample is small, but since the Pirates have embraced more rookies around the start of July, their team strikeout rate is fourth highest in the majors at 26.6%. The season long rate is 23.3% when Pittsburgh had fewer strikeout prone players in the lineup.

The Pirates will start Priester, a former first-round pick who will have a touch matchup against the Phillies' lineup. Priester had below-average strikeout rates in the minors and through his first 10 2/3 MLB innings, he has six strikeouts, five walks and four homers allowed.

Those underlying peripherals are concerning for a sinker ball and ground ball pitcher who doesn't grade out to have particularly good stuff.

Phillies vs. Pirates Betting Pick

If Nola has a 27% projected K rate for all Pirate batters today, and he gets to 25 batters faced, that would put him at a 6.75 strikeout projection. He could potentially go even deeper than that or post a higher K rate given the trends in his underlying whiff rate and CSW%.

He's improved his stuff as the season has progressed and is now top 15 in Stuff+ among MLB starters in the last 30 days. I'm buying Nola and selling the Pirates lineup full of inexperienced youngsters still learning how to hit at the MLB level.

I'd bet Nola over 6.5 strikeouts at -150 or better and would also look to ladder his strikeouts upward at alternate 7.5 and 8.5 plus-money prices.

If you're looking for a moneyline wager, I'd lay the juice on Nola and Philadelphia before betting on Priester and this current Pittsburgh lineup at just a +150 price.

Pick: Aaron Nola over 6.5 Strikeouts (-150 or Better)

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