Phillies at Rockies MLB Pick for September 24
The Philadelphia Phillies were recently eliminated from playoff contention despite being at or near the top of the National League East for the majority of the season. The Colorado Rockies, on the other hand, are still trying to claw their way into the postseason. Fresh off a sweep of the flailing Arizona Diamondbacks, the Rockies will return home to Coors Field to take on the Phillies starting Monday night.
Colorado is still a game and a half south of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the top spot in the NL West with a record of 85-70. The Rockies are also a game and a half behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot. The Cardinals, meanwhile, will be taking on the Brewers, the current Wild Card leaders, in a huge series in St. Louis starting tonight. Both of these series will go a long way toward determining which of these 3 teams is left on the outside of the playoff picture.
Jon Gray will take the mound for the Rockies in place of Tyler Anderson, who was scratched with left shoulder discomfort. The Phillies will give the ball to right-hander Zach Eflin.
Gray has been in particularly ragged form of late. The right-hander hasn’t pitched beyond 4 innings in any of his last 3 starts, and last time out he lasted just 2 innings against the Dodgers after getting blasted for 6 runs on 7 hits. Gray has a 5.07 ERA this season, but his 3.64 SIERA suggests there has been a lot of bad luck involved. Gray has an excellent strikeout rate of 24.9 percent on the year, and he has kept the ball on the ground at a clip nearing 48 percent.
The hard contact rate over 35 percent is a tad high, but he’s generally pitched well. He has also been victimized by a freakishly high .321 BABIP, which has led to plenty of trouble. Today’s matchup against the Phillies is a good one, as Philadelphia has the second-highest strikeout rate as a team this season against right-handed pitching. With the team’s playoff hopes shattered, there’s no telling what kind of lineup Gabe Kapler will put out there tonight. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a bit of a watered-down Philadelphia lineup tonight, which would obviously help Gray.
Eflin has been vastly improved this season compared to how he’s pitched at the big league level in the past. Eflin had a career SIERA way over 5.00 heading into 2018, but this season he has maintained a solid 3.97 SIERA. His 4.09 ERA is also passable, though there are some reasons to believe he’s pitched a bit over his head.
Eflin has a 22.6 percent strikeout rate, which is solid, but his performance over the last few months has been shaky. The right-hander was phenomenal in June, as evidenced by his 5-0 record and 1.76 ERA, but his combined ERA over the 3 months since is hovering dangerously close to 5.00. So far in September, Eflin has allowed 10 earned runs on 19 hits in just over 19 innings of work.
Eflin has had a big problem this season with left-handed hitters. He’s yielded a .353 wOBA to left-handed bats on the season, and 9 of his 16 homers allowed have also come against lefties. The Rockies have a few prominent left-handed hitters capable of giving him issues, including Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra. Eflin has fared much better against righties (.283 wOBA allowed), but Nolan Arenado isn’t your ordinary righty.
I’m a believer in Gray’s talent even if the results haven’t been there, especially lately. Eflin has been throwing harder this season, which has resulted in better production, but I still think his numbers to this point are a tad flukey. Going into the best hitter’s park in all of baseball by a wide margin doesn’t exactly bode well for him, either.
I’m inclined to take the over on 11 runs, but I think this is a good bounce-back spot for Gray. I expect the Rockies to mash Eflin, so my favorite bet here is Colorado to cover the -1 1/2 moneyline at -115. I think this is a smash spot for the Rockies and that the Phillies will be quiet in this one.
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