It took some late-inning magic, but the Braves avoided disaster Monday night by completing a comeback win over the Phillies to knot the series at one apiece headed back to Philadelphia. The Braves got embarrassed in their two playoff games in Philadelphia last season, and we’ll preview tonight’s matchup before going over which team I’ll be targeting on the F5 run-line.
While the Braves may have been able to even the series, the Phillies lineup once again proved they can handle any starter Atlanta throws at them. That said, as of right now, Philadelphia still doesn’t know who they’ll be facing tonight. Atlanta has been unwilling to announce who will be on the mound for them, but it’s safe to assume the decision is down to Bryce Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, or a bullpen game.
Elder had a stellar first half that made him an All-Star, but he has since seen a regression and enters this series, allowing four or more runs in six of his last ten outings. The rookie, Smith-Shawver, pitched to a 4.26 ERA in 25.3 innings this season, and no matter who pitches, they will have their work cut out for them against a Phillies lineup that is hitting .252 this postseason with a .751 OPS.
The Phillies scored 11 runs in their first two playoff games at home while also getting two stellar outings from Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Philadelphia will turn back to Nola to lead them on the bump tonight. In his wild-card start against the Marlins, the right-hander turned in seven shutout innings with three hits and three strikeouts, giving him a 3.86 postseason ERA in six starts.
Nola also started game three of the NLDS last season at home against the Braves, and he threw six innings while allowing just one unearned run in a 9-1 win. The Braves lineup he will face tonight looked lost at the plate until the 7th inning when Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run home run. Austin Riley’s two-run shot with two outs in the 8th would be the difference maker, giving the Braves a 5-4 win despite Atlanta only having four hits in the game.
Back in front of what might be the most energetic crowd in the postseason, the Phillies F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (+102), and I’ll be backing them for my play. No matter who the Braves start on the mound tonight, the Phillies will still have the advantage when it comes to starting pitching, and while the Braves came away with a late win in game two, the Phillies lineup has been far better this series.
Aaron Nola has been phenomenal on his mound this season, pitching to a 3.29 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and 3.21 xFIP in 87.2 innings. To make things even better, he has a 32% hard-hit percentage at home, and the last time he faced the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, he turned in six shutout innings with two hits allowed. While we’ve all gotten used to a daunting Braves lineup, so far in the postseason, they are hitting .150 with a .465 OPS.
Whether the Braves throw Elder or Swith-Shawver, they will be challenged immediately since the Phillies have a .772 OPS or higher in four of the first five innings this season. With the Phillies posting a 43.2% flyball rate and a 36.4% hard hit percentage over the past 14 days, I think they head into the 6th inning with a lead for the third time this series.
Philadelphia Phillies F5 (-.5)(+102)