Friday night brings 15 games around Major League Baseball, so there is no shortage of action. One of the more intriguing games will go down in Philly, where the Phillies will host the Rockies in a matchup between a couple of National League playoff hopefuls.
The Phillies have gotten off to a solid start. Philadelphia is 24-19, which is good enough for first place in the NL East. Colorado has gotten off to a less auspicious start, but we’re still early in the season. The Rockies’ 20-22 record through 42 games has them sitting in fourth place in the NL West behind Los Angeles, Arizona, and San Diego.
Colorado has made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, while the Phillies are looking to make it back to the postseason for the first time since way back in 2011.
|2019 ATR Home||7-13-0||12-13-0|
|2019 ATR Away||14-8-0||10-8-0|
|2019 O/U Home||13-7-0||12-13-0|
|2019 O/U Away||10-10-2||6-11-1|
The Rockies surged into the playoffs last season thanks in part to stellar starting pitching. Both German Marquez and Kyle Freeland emerged as reliable aces for Colorado, which is something the team has lacked for most of its existence. Playing your home games in the best hitting environment in the game isn’t all that conducive to consistently good pitching.
One guy that has been up and down over his first few years in the big leagues is Jon Gray, who will get the start Friday night in Philadelphia. Through his first eight starts of the year, the right-hander owns a 3-3 record with a 4.25 ERA. He fared quite well against this same Philadelphia lineup when he faced them at Coors Field last month, as he twirled six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and striking out five in an eventual 4-1 win.
Gray is a pretty talented pitcher, but control issues have plagued him, and he has always struggled to contain left-handed hitters. Gray has a walk rate north of 9% so far this season, and lefties have touched him up to the tune of a .366 wOBA. Gray has also already allowed nine homers across those eight starts.
The Phillies have a deep offense full of strong hitters. Most of them are righties, which bodes well for Gray, but the projected lineup still boasts a collective .352 wOBA against right-handed pitching with an above-average ISO of .190. It’s also a patient lineup (10.6% walk rate), so if Gray is struggling with his command, he could be in for a rough outing. Citizens Bank Park is an upgrade for Gray compared to Coors, but it’s still one of the more hitter-friendly parks in the National League.
Bryce Harper hasn’t quite lived up to billing to this point but, so far, his lackluster performance at the plate hasn’t negatively impacted the Phillies all that much. Still, it’s certainly a concern that the Phils’ $300 million man is slashing just .221/.365/.429 with seven homers through 43 games.
Cole Irvin will climb the mound for the Phillies. The 25-year-old left-hander has made just one start at the big-league level so far this season. That came five days ago against the Royals, and he pitched quite well. Irvin surrendered just a run on five hits with five strikeouts over the course of seven strong innings.
However, he doesn’t project to be anything special at this level, and the Rockies are a far more daunting offense than the Royals were. Some of these numbers are aided a bit by their favorable home park, but Colorado has been crushing left-handed pitching all year long. The projected Rockies lineup has a wOBA of .380 with an insane ISO over .230 against southpaws so far in 2019. Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, in particular, have been mashing lefties for years.
This just looks like a game that could light up the scoreboard tonight. I like the matchup for the Rockies better, but Gray is a pitcher that also projects to struggle against a lineup as deep as Philly’s. The Vegas total of 9 runs looks way too low given the caliber of offenses we have here going up against a couple of hittable starting pitchers.
I’m definitely interested in picking the Rockies to win the game outright at +110 on the moneyline. I think that’s a viable bet. My favorite bet, though, is the over on 9 runs. It wouldn’t be surprising to see either of these offenses crack double-digits by themselves here, so I think this game pretty easily goes over 9 runs on Friday night.
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