Phillies vs. Braves Odds
|Time||Sunday, 7:08 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via PointsBet|
After being swept by the Philadelphia Phillies to begin the season, the Atlanta Braves are in the position to return the favor. Atlanta has won the first two games in the series — outscoring Philadelphia 13-5 en route to a four-game winning streak.
The series finale features two left-handers as Drew Smyly gets the start for the Braves with Matt Moore going for the Phillies. In Moore’s first start since pitching in Japan, his control problems resurfaced, and he only managed to get through 3 1/3 innings.
But perhaps those struggles early in the game were to be expected. A closer look actually reveals that fading Moore in the first five innings has proven to be quite profitable.
After winning the Japan Series and going 6-3 with a 2.65 ERA, Matt Moore reportedly turned down better offers in Japan to return to MLB. His performance overseas was enough to land him a one-year. $3 million deal with the Phillies. He’s hoping to restart his once-promising career that was derailed by injuries and a lack of performance.
According to MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus, Moore was actually the top overall baseball prospect before the 2012 season. Since his Tommy John surgery in 2014, he’s struggled to regain the form that landed him on the 2013 AL All-Star team.
You’ll have to go back to 2017 to find the last time he made at least 30 starts in a season. However, his 15 losses for the Giants that year were the most by any pitcher in the National League. The following season with the Rangers, he went 3-8 in 39 appearances but was a starter in only 12 of them as he was demoted to the bullpen during the season.
In those two seasons, he had a 3.46 BB/9 in 2017 and a 3.62 BB/9 in 2018. For his career, Moore has a 3.74 BB/9 ratio.
Those control issues were again on display during his first outing this season, where he allowed four walks in 3 1/3 innings. When you combine that with a decline in velocity, Moore is a pitcher who operates with much less margin for error than others.
That has to be a concern considering that he’ll be facing a Philadelphia team that was ninth in the majors last season with a 10.2% walk rate and first with a .349 OBP.
Like Matt Moore, Drew Smyly has endured his share of injuries. After being traded to the Mariners in 2017, the former second-round pick never made it to the mound that season due to a tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.
Smily was 31-27 at the time with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. The injury kept him out of baseball the next two years, and it wasn’t until the 2020 season that he would look like himself again.
In 12 starts for the Giants last season, Smyly went 7-5 with a 3.42 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. His 2.01 FIP was almost 1.5 runs lower than his ERA, suggesting some positive regression may have been around the corner had he gotten the normal workload of a 162-game season.
Smyly is already looking to build on that success this season as he’s already off to a good start. In his only appearance, he recorded a quality outing by pitching six innings and allowing two runs in a 6-5 loss to the Nationals.
Like Moore, Smyly doesn’t necessarily possess a power arm, but he does have much better control of his pitches, as evidenced by his career 2.84 BB/9 ratio.
Last season, he eliminated his changeup to focus on throwing just three pitches: a four-seam fastball, a curveball and a cutter.
That appears to have worked as the highest wOBA hitters had against those pitches was .278 when facing his fastball.
After assessing the starting pitching matchup on the mound, there’s no question that Atlanta is the deserving favorite. As a result, I think it makes sense to isolate Philadelphia’s Matt Moore using a first five moneyline wager.
In 24 plate appearances against Moore, Atlanta’s batters are hitting .304, while the Phillies lineup has just three hits in 24 plate appearances against Smyly.
Look for Moore to continue to struggle with his command as the Braves grow in confidence at the plate, as evidenced by their current four-game winning streak.
To get a sense of Moore’s struggles in the early frames of the game, I queried his numbers going back to the 2017 season. Since that time, he’s just 8-29 in the first five innings for a loss of 21.74 units.
That’s certainly a number I can get behind, and that’s exactly how I’ll look to play this matchup.
BetMGM has the best price on the board at -160 in the first five innings.
While I never like laying this much juice, I like my chances in this spot because I think even the worst-case scenario would result in a push.
Pick: Braves First Five Innings (-160)
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