Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia Odds, Preview, Prediction: Back Aaron Nola and the Phillies Against the Reds (Sunday, August 15)
Mitchell Leff / Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Nola
- Sonny Gray has struggled as his home run rate has nearly doubled since last season.
- Aaron Nola's metrics suggest he is a candidate for positive regression.
- Michael explains below why he sees value on the Phillies.
Reds vs. Phillies Odds
|Time||Sunday, 12:05 a.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday at 10:00 a.m. ET and via Bet365|
The Reds play will meet the Phillies for the final time this regular season as they wrap up a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Sunday’s game will break the deadlock in the series after the team’s split the first two games with identical 6-1 wins.
After losing the series opener, Philadelphia bounced back to win on Saturday afternoon. If they win again on Sunday, they will tie the season series at three games apiece.
The Phillies will hope to get a good performance from Aaron Nola while the Reds will counter with Sonny Gray.
This is a matchup between two pitchers who have somewhat struggled this series. Let’s dig into the numbers to see which of them might have enough to lead his team to a victory.
Gray comes into this game at 4-6 with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. It’s his highest ERA in the last three seasons, and a big reason for that is his 1.26 HR/9 ratio is almost double what it was last season (0.64 HR/9). In fact, you’d have to go back five seasons to find the last time he allowed more than one home run per nine innings of work.
The Tennessee native is a groundball pitcher, as evidenced by his 1.71 GB/FB ratio. That’s actually a drop-off from last year when he had a 2.23 GB/FB ratio. Interestingly, his 11.62 K/9 ratio is actually the highest in his career, but the results haven’t been there.
While his 3.47 xERA and 3.74 FIP both make him a candidate for positive regression, I would probably feel a bit better if I thought he could keep the ball inside the park.
His HR/FB rate is at 18.5%, and that’s certainly a problem if almost 20% of flyballs reach the seats in the outfield. These issues have led to a lack of consistency with him on the mound, and that’s why he’s only been able to average around five innings per game.
At one point, he was considered the ace of the Reds rotation. That title now probably belongs to the left-hander Wade Miley. Gray will need to pitch deeper to give the Reds a better chance to win some ballgames down the stretch. He’ll face a Phillies lineup that has had some success against him given their .271 / .317 / .427 line in 96 at-bats.
Like Gray, Nola has also been somewhat underwhelming this year. While he’s 7-6 with a 4.35 ERA, his 1.14 WHIP suggests that he’s probably pitched even better than his record shows. His 3.57 xERA and 3.44 FIP further support that assertion as both metrics would suggest some positive regression for Nola.
Ironically, the Louisiana native has allowed the fewest walks in his career, considering his 1.93 BB/9 ratio. However, his home runs have gone up as his 1.31 HR/9 ratio is the highest of his career. This is because Nola has been less of a groundball pitcher this season than any of his previous six years in the majors.
In 2020, he had a 1.80 GB/FB ratio, but this season, that number’s down to 1.04. A glance at his pitch usage could explain this phenomenon as his four-seam fastball is his most thrown pitch this year at 39.1%.
Last season, his changeup was his most used pitch at 27.4%. He was also throwing his sinker at 20.7%, but now he’s only featuring it 10.7% of the time. That’s my guess as to why his numbers are a bit down this season.
Let’s not forget that this is a pitcher with a career 65-46 record and a 3.59 ERA. If he can regain the trust in his sinker, I think he’ll have a good chance to rediscover his form.
This has been an entertaining series with both teams entrenched in a playoff race. The Phillies have had tremendous success against the Reds over the years and especially at home.
Our Bet Labs database has Philadelphia at 35-18 for 9.31 units in this spot.
Another thing to keep in mind is that every time the Reds lost a game started by Gray this season, they’d also lose the very next time he was on the mound. That’s occurred all four times this season, and that trend is active, with the Reds coming off a loss in Gray’s last start.
As for Nola, the Phillies have alternated wins and losses in his last six starts, and his last outing resulted in a loss.
I like both of those trends to continue on Sunday, with Philadelphia knotting up the regular-season series at three games apiece. I’ll look to play the Phillies as a -135 favorite over at Bet365,
Pick: Phillies ML (-135)