Following an exciting back-and-forth game that saw them fall in extra innings on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Phillies return to action tonight as they continue their homestand with a series against the Cardinals. We’ll preview the series’ opening game before going over which side I’ll be backing.
In a battle between the two teams at the bottom of the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals lost a three-game series to the Pirates at the beginning of the week. The Red Birds were able to come away with one win on Wednesday when they avoided getting swept with a 6-4 victory. After only scoring four runs in the first two games, the Cardinals offense came out aggressive early, tacking on five runs in the first two innings, which was capped by Nolan Arenado's two-RBI double.
St. Louis would also get a strong start from young left-hander Zack Thompson in the winning effort. Following an off-day, the Cardinals will turn to a veteran to open their series with Philadelphia, as Miles Mikolas will take the ball. The right-hander is fresh off another start against an NL East team, which did not go well. Mikolas allowed seven earned runs on seven hits to the Mets, resulting in him getting pulled after 4.2 innings.
Mikolas will have his hands full tonight with a Phillies lineup that put up 16 runs over their three-game series with the Giants. In their 8-6 loss on Wednesday, the Phillies wanted a dramatic end to the series. Down 5-2 entering the 9th, Philadelphia would tie the game thanks to a three-run home run from Bryce Harper. San Francisco would respond immediately, though, putting up three runs off Craig Kimbrel to win the game.
Even after the loss, Philadelphia sits firmly atop the NL Wild Card race, and as they look to protect their lead tonight, Cristopher Sánchez will toe the rubber for them. The lefty has given his club six innings with three or fewer runs allowed in his last two outings, which has him pitching to a 3.36 ERA in 64.3 innings of work this season.
The Phillies moneyline is currently priced at (-139), and I’ll be backing them for my play tonight. Miles Mikolas does not pose much of a threat to a Phillies offense that loves hitting in their home ballpark, and the Cardinals bullpen has not been much better, with a 4.55 ERA over the past month. As long as Cristopher Sánchez can hold the Cardinals to three or fewer runs, which he has done in nine of his last ten starts, Philadelphia is in a good spot.
Within the last 30 days, the Phillies offense is hitting .285 and ranks 6th in wRC+ and 5th in OPS and wOBA against right-handed pitching at home. Those are the exact numbers you want to see, knowing they are facing a starter in the 20th percentile in xERA/xwOBA and 7th percentile in expected batting average. To make matters even better for Philadelphia, Mikolas also enters tonight with a 4.78 xFIP on the road.
Cristopher Sánchez has a much better matchup tonight, facing a Cardinals lineup that is hitting .240 and ranks 15th in wOBA against left-handed pitching over the last month. Sánchez also has a 3.39 xFIP at home and is in the 64th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, so the potential to put up another quality start is there.
Philadelphia Phillies (-139)