Mets vs. Phillies Odds, Preview, Prediction: Battle for NL East Takes Center Stage (Friday, August 6)

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Bryce Harper.

Mets vs. Phillies Odds

Mets Odds -105
Phillies Odds -115
Over/Under 8.5
Time Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Thursday and via DraftKings

The biggest series of the weekend will take place in Philadelphia with the National League East lead on the line.

The New York Mets currently lead the Philadelphia Phillies by just one-half game. Philly is red hot, closing the gap with five straight wins.

New York has held the division lead since May 8 but is just 3-7 in its last 10 games. The surging Phillies will look to take the top spot during this weekend’s three-game set.

The NL East lead could change hands at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night, so who has the edge in the series opener?

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Stroman Due for Regression Down the Stretch

New York will start the weekend series with Marcus Stroman on the mound, and he has had a good season on the surface for the Mets. Stroman has a 2.80 ERA and allowed just 11 home runs all season with a 0.81 HR/9 rate that ranks in the top 10 of the league.

However, when you look a little closer at Stroman’s numbers, they are a little less dazzling than they initially appear. Despite a 2.80 ERA, the right-hander has an xERA that is almost two runs higher at 4.43. He has allowed an xBA of .268 and xwOBA of .322, both in the bottom 35% of the league.

Stroman has never been a big strikeout guy, and his current 7.43 K/9 is right in line with his career mark of 7.37. Instead, he relies on his sinker and slider to generate ground balls and soft contact. His ground-ball rate at 50.6% is the lowest mark of his career, despite ranking sixth in the league.

The biggest concern from Stroman is that his hard-hit percentage is the highest of his career at 42.7%, which ranks in the bottom 22% of the league. His two most-thrown pitchers are his sinker (44.7%) and slider (20.5%), and they have allowed a 50% and 41.5% hard-hit rate.

The Mets’ offense, meanwhile, has not quite performed the way I think most people expected this year. Marquee signing Francisco Lindor has struggled and is now on the injured list. New York ranks just 21st in wOBA and 17th in wRC+. They rank 29th in runs per game this year.

The Mets’ big deadline move was to acquire Javier Báez from the Cubs, but he is batting just .160 with 10 strikeouts in his first week in Queens. Instead, it has been Jeff McNeil carrying this offense with a .351 average and 1.076 OPS over the last two weeks.


Phillies Turn to Newest Starting Pitcher

The Phillies made a deadline move to bolster their rotation by trading for All-Star Kyle Gibson, as well as adding to their bullpen with closer Ian Kennedy, both from the Texas Rangers.

Gibson is having a career year with a 7-3 record and 2.86 ERA. In his debut for the Phils last week, he pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just two runs on five hits.

Just like Stroman, Gibson doesn’t have a ton of strikeout upside and uses his sinker, slider and changeup to generate a 50.6% ground-ball rate.

The most enticing stat for the Phillies is probably that Gibson averages six innings per start and has thrown at least six frames in 15 of his 20 starts. With the struggles on the backend of Philadelphia’s bullpen, it desperately needed another innings eater. Throwing 113 pitches and lasting into the seventh inning in his first outing was surely a welcome sign.

The Fightin’ Phils just never quit in games and picked up another ninth-inning comeback win on Thursday night. They have been one of the most clutch teams in the league this season all season. In high-leverage situations, Philly leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage and runs scored while ranking second in wOBA.

I said this in my preview yesterday and I’ll say it again today: Not enough people are talking about how good Bryce Harper has been recently. Over the past month, Harper is batting .357 with a 1.129 OPS. In the last two weeks, he is hitting .413 with a 1.369 OPS.

The former NL MVP ranks second in the National League in wOBA this season (behind the currently injured Fernando Tatis Jr.) and if he can lead the Phillies to a division title, he should be firmly in the MVP discussion again.

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Mets-Phillies Pick

This is a huge series for both teams as the postseason race starts to heat up, and I am going to back the red-hot Phillies who return home with a ton of momentum.

Stroman has been a negative-regression candidate all season, and I think it’s starting to creep in. Since the start of July he is just 1-4 with a 3.74 ERA and just a 43.8 GB%.

The Phillies will face Stroman for the fifth time this season and their offense has been the best in the league against sinkers since July 1. Harper has a .391 xBA and .559 xwOBA (third in the league) against sinkers this season with a 62.5% hard hit rate.

Since the start of July, Philadelphia’s offense has been the best in the league and ranks first in all of baseball in runs scored, wOBA, doubles, and extra-base hits.

This game opened with the Mets a small -115 favorite but quickly flipped to Philadelphia -115. I give the Phillies a slight edge in starting pitching, a large edge offensively, and a large edge in location. Philadelphia has been great at home this year, going 31-21 at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets have struggled away from Citi Field, sitting just 23-32 on the road this year.

I like the Phillies to overtake the NL East lead and would back them down to -125 on Friday night.

Pick: Phillies ML (-115, play to -125)

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