Expert MLB best bets, picks and predictions today, 10/19: The Phillies are painting October red
Isn’t postseason baseball the best? It’s been a wild ride so far with some of the favorites to win the World Series (like the Braves, Dodgers and Orioles) out of the playoffs before the Championship series. That has made it all the more fun in my opinion, and for Thursday we have both the ALCS and NLCS in action.
My best bet focuses on the NLCS Game 3 in Arizona, but you can check out both of our MLB Postseason picks, too.
Philadelphia Phillies ML (-132) over Arizona Diamondbacks
Available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing
The Diamondbacks can finally let out a sigh of relief; they don’t have to play in Philadelphia for a few games. The Snakes are down 0-2 after an embarrassing start to the NLCS, which featured the Phillies launching 6 home runs in just 2 games. In the end, the Phillies outscored the Diamondbacks 15-3 in 2 games, and the 10-0 win in Game 2 had to hurt Arizona’s pride. But for Games 3, 4 and 5, the setting will be Chase Field in Arizona, which isn’t exactly known for its playoff atmosphere. That means home-field advantage has a lot less significance for the Diamondbacks than it does for the Phillies. Game 3 is crucial for the Snakes because a loss makes the next game an elimination game, so Thursday’s game is a must-win scenario.
So, who will the Diamondbacks throw in this pivotal game? The answer is Brandon Pfaadt, a rookie right-hander who had a 5.72 ERA in 96 innings. If you can’t tell, I think this is a terrible move for the Snakes. This is for several reasons, but most importantly is Pfaadt’s arsenal. The rookie relied on his fastball for 45.4% of pitches in the regular season, and opponents hit .325 with a .650 SLG against that pitch. Although it was his primary pitch, it was also his biggest weakness. Pfaadt’s fastball had a -10 Run Value in the regular season, and it’s not surprising because it’s not an above-average pitch. It has less vertical and horizontal movement than the average MLB fastball and sits at just 93.7 MPH. The reason I mention his fastball so much is because 4 of Philadelphia’s 6 home runs against the Diamondbacks have been on the fastball. In summary, Pfaadt throws a flat fastball a lot — and the Phillies hunt and smash fastballs.
Heading into the playoffs, the Phillies knew they had Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola as the 1-2 punch. That worked wonders in the Wild Card and Divisional round, but they also knew that once it got to best-of-7, they would need another reliable starter or two. With that in mind, they gave Ranger Saurez the opportunity to be the 3rd starter and he has been fantastic. In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves, he threw 3.1 scoreless innings and surrendered just 1 hit while striking out 4. And then in Game 4 he threw 5.0 innings and allowed only 1 run — which came on an Austin Riley solo shot. So in 2 postseason starts, Suarez has allowed 1 run, 4 hits and 1 walk in 8.2 innings. He limited hitters to a .133 batting average, a .189 xBA and a 33% hard-hit rate in those outings. Both of those starts came against the Braves, who had one of the best lefty-hitting offenses in baseball in the regular season.
However, the same can’t be said for the Diamondbacks. In the second half of the season the Snakes ranked 20th in batting average, 18th in on-base percentage, 27th in slugging percentage, 24th in OPS and 23rd in wRC+ against left-handed pitching. Plus the Phillies did not have to use any high-leverage relievers in Game 2, so their bullpen is as rested as can be. I think the home-field advantage is factored a little too much into this line, and that gives value to the red-hot Phillies in Red October.
Check out our Phillies-Diamondbacks Same Game Parlay (+622!)