Phillies vs. Reds Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Bet Aaron Nola vs. Sonny Gray in Cincinnati (Tuesday, June 1)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: Rhys Hoskins forces Mark Payton out at first base.
Phillies vs. Reds Odds
|Over/Under||7.5 (-108 / -112)|
|Time||7:10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday afternoon and via FanDuel.|
A pair of strong pitchers take the hill in Cincinnati on Tuesday at the Great American Ballpark, the enemy of pitchers everywhere.
After exploding for 11 runs on Monday, the Reds will hope their lineup has come back to life, something the Phillies have been waiting around for patiently.
Against Sonny Gray, it doesn’t seem likely this lineup breaks out, so is it time once more to fade the Phillies? Let’s take a look at the numbers and determine that.
Can Aaron Nola Prop Up Philly While Offense Falters?
Aaron Nola will head to the mound for the Phillies in the midst of what’s been a weird season. His 3.09 expected ERA and 2.97 FIP would indicate that his 3.72 ERA stands to improve a little, though he’s objectively been less dominant than last season.
Nola’s strikeout rate is down to 28.1% — which is still good — but it coincides with a higher contact rate at 74% and a lower swinging strike rate. The thing is, he’s gone back to his fastball as his primary pitch this year, and it’s been hit decently to the tune of a .259 xBA. When he’s not striking out hitters, they’re actually having an easier time making contact on his fastball, changeup and curveball than they were in 2020, when he shined in a shortened season.
As for the Philly offense, well, it’s been rough. Without Bryce Harper to power the lineup through some dark times, the Phillies have begun to slip into oblivion. Over the last two weeks, they’ve posted just a 76 wRC+ to go along with a 26.1% strikeout rate. JT Realmuto has recently returned to the lineup, but even that addition hasn’t been enough to make this order relevant. In a pitcher’s duel, you generally have a hard time backing an offense like this that is already having a rough go of it.
One thing that could help Philly here is its average performance against curveballs, which is the pitch of choice of Sonny Gray. It’s posted 0.05 weighted runs per 100 pitches, which puts it in the top half of the league. It’s something small, but something worth watching nonetheless.
Gray Has the Goods For Cincinnati
Sonny Gray stands on the other end of this much-anticipated pitching matchup and he, too, has had a weird go of it in 2021. Now 31, Gray is who he is at this point in his career, and that just may be a slightly above average pitcher. The righty began the year awfully with a 5.93 ERA in April, only to recover with a 2.20 ERA in May. Though that number looks great, let’s keep in mind he allowed three earned runs in back-to-back outings before he settled in against the lowly Nationals.
Gray isn’t missing any more bats this year than he has in years’ past, and he’s still struggling with walks, but the one area that has been particularly good is the contact department. Sure, his contact rate is up ever so slightly, but his hard-hit rate has dipped to 29.7%. That’s the best thing about Gray, and it should make him an impossible matchup against a Philly team ranking third-worst in contact rate. Together with his high whiff rates, the fact that he’s induced so much soft contact should be a lethal combination. The only worry here is the walks.
Speaking of issues, this Reds’ offense has really fallen from grace. Eugenio Suárez has been much better out of the leadoff spot, but it still rates below average over the last two weeks. An 11-spot against the Phillies on Monday was a great place to start a resurgence, however, and the Reds are hoping that it’s more than just a blip on the radar, it’s a return to the dominance in the box we saw early this year.
Without any sort of pulse or hope on offense, I have a hard time recommending any sort of bet on the Phillies’ offense here. Nola has been a hard man to trust to boot, and that’s what gives me pause about simply taking the under here. We know the Reds have some runs in them, watching them tear the cover off the ball in April, and the bats in this lineup are incredibly talented.
I think the price here on the Reds, who are at home, is far too short. I’d give Nola a slight edge over Gray, but the discrepancy between the two offenses at the moment is massive.
Pick: Reds ML (-112)