After the first two games of this series, a sweep seemed imminent for the Phillies, but behind their home crowd, the Diamondbacks showed life and at least have the series headed to a game six tonight. The only problem for Arizona is that game six will be in Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies never seem to lose. I’ll explain why Philadelphia’s success at home will likely continue immediately tonight and which player is primed for a big night at the dish.
I’ve covered practically every game of this series, and the one thing I keep harping on is the Phillies' 1-2 punch in their rotation outperforming the Diamondbacks. Zack Wheeler outdueled Zac Gallen in game one of this series at home, and he was able to do it again Saturday night in the Phillies 6-1 win. Wheeler’s seven-inning performance with eight strikeouts and one earned run allowed gave him a 2.08 ERA this postseason, and tonight, the Phillies will be starting the second half of their dynamic pitching duo.
Aaron Nola took the mound in game two and spun six shutout innings with seven strikeouts, leading to a .96 ERA for this playoff run. For his career, Nola is now sporting a 3.25 ERA in the postseason, and in five home playoff starts, he is 4-1, with only one outing where he’s allowed more than two earned runs.
While Nola has carried his weight on the mound, the Phillies lineup has made his life a bit easier by supplying plenty of run support. In Nola's three playoff starts this fall, Philadelphia has outscored their opponent by a combined score of 27-3. Arizona matched up Merrill Kelly with Nola for game two, and they’ll be doing the same thing tonight, hoping to get at least one winning effort out of their 1-2 punch.
Philadelphia has lived by the longball this postseason, and Merrill Kelly learned that the hard way in game two by allowing three hits for four earned runs, with all three hits going for home runs. In his 5.2 innings of work, Kelly would strike out six hitters, but Kyle Schwarber made sure his night ended on a sour note by hitting his second home run of the night off Kelly in the bottom of the 6th.
Philadelphia’s F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (-125), and I’ll be backing them for my first play. The Phillies have covered the F5 run-line consistently this postseason, and they are 3-0 on it when Nola has pitched. Between having Nola on the mound and being back in front of their home crowd, the Phillies are in a prime position to clinch their spot in the World Series tonight, and I expect their success to start early in the game.
According to statcast, the Phillies lineup has a .280 expected batting average and .396 xwOBA against Merrill Kelly. That makes a lot of sense since the Phillies did register seven hard-hit balls off the right-hander in game two. Even after that loss, Kelly has a 3.00 ERA this postseason, but he also has a 5.92 FIP, so he is at risk for even more negative regression tonight.
On the other hand, Aaron Nola has a .96 ERA and 1.70 FIP in his 18.2 innings up to this point, so I don’t see him faltering at all. Nola is also facing a Diamondbacks lineup that is hitting .254 with a .762 OPS at home this postseason, but when they’ve played on the road, they are hitting .222 with a .708 OPS.
There are a few players in the Phillies lineup that see Merrill Kelly well, but none better than Trea Turner. That said, my second play of the night is Trea Turner over 1.5 total bases at (+105). The Phillies shortstop took Kelly deep in game two and is now hitting .455 with a .538 wOBA off him in 22 at-bats.
Turner is also leading this red-hot Phillies lineup in hitting this postseason with a .415 average and 1.224 OPS, which has led to him recording 31 total bases. Across the 11 playoff games the Phillies have had on this run, Turner has exceeded 1.5 total bases in seven of them, so between that and the fact that he is hitting .619 at home in the playoffs, I like him to have a significant impact on the game tonight.
Philadelphia Phillies F5 (-.5)(-125)
Trea Turner Over 1.5 Total Bases (+110)