Bet of the Day – Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies, Sept. 22, 2010

Atlanta Braves (+135) at Philadelphia Phillies (-145), Over/Under 7.5

Yesterday’s bet, San Diego Padres at LA Dodgers, was winner.  4 wins in a row!  Tonight’s game is the finale in the Braves and Phillies series.  The Phillies took the first two games.  A win tonight will pretty much lock up the NL East.  The Braves were in a much different spot a month ago.  Now they hold a slight lead in the wild card race.  Lucky for the Braves, their next series is in Washington.

The Braves have won 3 of the last 7.  Their bats are cold but their pitching has been decent.  Over the last 7, the Braves batted .244 with a .315 OBP for 3.1 runs per game. The Braves have held teams to a .290 OBP for 3.9 runs per game over the same stretch.  Starting Pitcher Tommy Hanson (10-11, 1.196 WHIP) has been solid of late, but faces a tough test in Philadelphia’s lineup.  Hanson hasn’t given up many hits and walks lately and rarely gives up home runs (note: he has given up a home run in each of his last road starts).  He isn’t as effective on the road, with a 1.315 WHIP.  Hanson has pitched decent against Philadelphia in the past but will need a big start tonight if the Braves want to win.

The Phillies have won 9 straight games.  Manager Charlie Manuel seems to have timed his teams peak well this year.  The Phillies are hot at the plate and on the mound.  Over their last 7 games the Phillies have batted .299 with a .390 OBP for 5.9 runs per game.  Over that stretch they held teams to a .303 OBP for 2.7 runs per game.  Roy Oswalt (13-13, 1.052 WHIP) starts tonight for the Phillies.  Oswalt’s record doesn’t do his 2010 season justice.  In his last 3 games, Oswalt has a 2.05 ERA with a 0.864 WHIP.  Oswalt has had trouble against the Braves in the past, but hasn’t faced them this year.  Oswalt and the Phillies are on form heading into tonight’s game.

Using home and away stats,  my baseball model projects Phillies 4.58 over Braves 3.45 for 8.03 total runs.  On paper, both teams looks similar.  Very close in hits, walks and pitching.  There is one clear difference, scoring efficiency.  The Phillies score 40% of runners on base, while the Braves only score 34%.  Part of this is due to the Phillies high stolen base rate and low strikeouts.  The key variance contributors are the Braves scoring efficiency and Oswalt’s low walks and hits allowed.  What this means is that Oswalt would have to allow more walks and hits than he averages and the Braves would have to score more efficiently.  Both need to be greater than 1 standard deviation.  That indicates the Phillies will be tough to beat tonight.

Tonight I am taking the Phillies.  Here is why.  A sweep here likely lock up the NL West.  The Braves aren’t a great road team.  Oswalt is pitching on form and tonight can win 5 straight starts for the first time since 2007.  Also, I think Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wouldn’t mind sending a message to the Braves before the playoffs.  Bet on the Philadelphia Phillies on the Money Line -145. Follow me on Twitter for all of my picks.  Good Luck!

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