On Sunday Night Baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers will meet at Globe Life Field. The Phillies will hand the ball to Bailey Falter, looking to avoid getting swept in their first series of the season.
Ahead of first pitch, oddsmakers have the Rangers priced as slim -115 favorites on the moneyline. The total is set at over/under nine runs.
How to watch Phillies vs. Rangers
- First pitch — 7:05 p.m. ET
- Venue — Globe Life Field
- TV — FOX
Bailey Falter's 2022 Stats:
- 3.86 ERA, 4.62 xERA, 4.65 FIP
- 21.2 K% / 4.9 BB%
- 1.21 WHIP
In 2022, Bailey Falter struggled mightily out of the gate, with a 5.18 ERA and a 6.17 FIP across his first 33.0 innings of work. However, an adjustment to his pitch mix during the latter half of the campaign helped him provide quality backend innings down the stretch.
Falter increased the usage of his fastball and curveball against right-handed batters, cutting back on his sinker and slider. The result was a 3.00 ERA and a 3.66 FIP in 51.0 innings to end the regular season.
One thing is certain every time Falter takes the bump -- he will make teams earn their runs. Among 154 pitchers to toss at least 84 innings last year, Falter ranked 24th in first-pitch strike percentage.
Mixed results from Philadelphia Phillies' bats to begin the season
On Opening Day, the Phillies scored seven runs, looking as if they had forgotten that both Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins were out of the lineup. On Saturday, the output was much less impressive, scoring only three runs in a 16-3 loss.
Even the three runs that Philadelphia scored were not exactly earned. In the fourth inning, the tough sun in right field led to multiple fly balls landing on the outfield grass that should have been caught.
In the series finale, Rob Thomson will need to find a way to be more aggressive on the basepaths with Trea Turner, Bryson Stott, and other players who possess top-end speed. Through two games, the team has only two stolen bases.
Martin Perez's 2022 Stats:
- 2.89 ERA, 3.59 xERA, 3.27 FIP
- 20.6 K% / 8.4 BB%
- 1.26 WHIP
In 2022, Martin Perez posted his best season as a professional, finishing the year with an ERA that was 26 percent better than the league-average pitcher and a FIP that was 18 percent better than the league average. His 1.26 WHIP was a career-best, though he still struggled to limit traffic on the basepaths against right-handed hitters.
Notably, Perez was at his strongest during his first time through the order (TTO). Among 196 qualified pitchers, he had the 14th largest discrepancy between his FIP during the first three innings of games and the first five innings of games -- indicating that he was far more vulnerable the second TTO.
If Philadelphia can get to him early, they should be able to pile on the damage into the middle frames.
Will Texas Rangers' bats stay hot?
In two games to begin the new campaign, the Rangers have scored a combined 27 runs. Even more impressive, they have done damage against Philadelphia's top arms, including Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Seranthony Dominguez.
Still, it is worth questioning whether or not this will last for much longer. In 2022, Texas struggled mightily at the plate. Returning the vast majority of last season's bats, it is likely only a matter of time before we see hard regression to the mean.
Across the first two games of this series, the Phillies have been outscored 27-10, which more closely resembles a football score than it does 18 innings of baseball. Despite the rough beginning to the new year, Philadelphia remains a team capable of beating any team on any given night.
Obviously, the team will need a better outing from Falter than they got from Nola and Wheeler each of the last two games. Falter, a consistent strike-thrower, could be exactly what this team needs to bust out of their mini-slump. After issuing 12 walks in the first two games of the weekend, Falter should finally force the Rangers to earn their runs on Sunday Night Baseball.
Expect the Phillies to do enough in this matchup to avoid the sweep before heading to New York on Monday.