The Phillies are a few games behind the Marlins as we approach the All-Star break, but can continue to run them down for second in the NL East and tops in the NL Wild Card picture with a strong series this weekend.
Zack Wheeler gets the ball for the Phillies in the series opener against defending Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, who has come back to Earth after his award winning season. Can Wheeler respond after two straight poor outings and get the Phillies a series opening win?
Here are the odds for Friday night's matchup:
Phillies vs. Marlins odds, run line and total
Phillies vs. Marlins prediction and pick
Wheeler has allowed nine earned runs over his last two starts spanning over 10 innings, bringing his ERA over 4.00 (4.03), but his underlying metrics show that Wheeler is still an elite pitcher.
The Phillies ace has an xERA of 3.39 and a Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 2.82. He will face a Marlins lineup that is raking over the last month, fourth in batting average, but that comes up just short against the Philadelphia lineup (third in batting average and 40 points higher than the Marlins in terms of OPS).
While Miami's offense is humming, it's still not as good as Philly's, who gets to face Alcantara, who has seen his velocity drop mightily and even with improved xERA slightly better than his actual ERA, it still pales in comparison to the way Wheeler is pitching.
Alcantara has a 4.93 ERA supported by a 4.22 ERA, but is striking out three less batters per nine inning than Wheeler.
Wheeler has been the far better pitcher and with the Phillies offense still outpacing a red-hot Marlins team, I'll take Philly to get the series opening win.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.