Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies (12:35 ET)
Favorite: Braves -150
Pitchers: Charlie Morton (4.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) vs. Kyle Gibson (4.69 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
Uncle Charlie is back in action looking to continue his scorching hot run to cap off an important series win over the Phillies as they fight for the top spot in the NL East with the Mets. Morton‘s ERA isn’t all that great due to his start to the season, but as of late he and his patented curveball have been absolutely filthy. Over his last 44.2 IP he’s logged a stellar 2.22 ERA and that aforementioned curveball over the course of the season is getting hit at a .175 xBA and whiffed on 40.6% of the time. Charlie has had his issues walking batters (9 over last 3 games), but given the Phillies have the worst walk rate in July (5.9%) and a fairly high strikeout rate (23.7%) I don’t think that’ll be much of an issue.
Kyle Gibson has been up and down this year, seemingly either posting a very solid game or getting pounded. More often lately it’s been getting blitzed and he particularly struggles against righties (.265 BA), which the Braves are almost exclusively. Gibson, as most pitchers, is great in his first time through the order (.608 OPS) but in his second go round he drops severely (.834 OPS). If the Phillies want to win this game they’ll need him to give them 5 solid innings and I’m not sure he does that. Give me the much better offense to get to Gibson early and often and continue their pressure on the Mets.
Pick: Braves ML -150 (1u)
Sean Haffey - Getty Images
San Diego Padres @ Detroit Tigers (1:10 ET)
Favorite: Padres -135
Pitchers: Yu Darvish (3.28 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) vs. Tarik Skubal (3.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Tarik Skubal finally had the bounce-back game we were hoping for (and cashed in on) and the books are quick to respect him again. Making the Tigers this short of a dog against someone with the talent like Darvish is bold and here’s why. This matchup comes down to lefties because both offenses use a load of them (Padres 5, Tigers 6). Lefties against Darvish are batting a mere .180 off of him this year, and the veteran has only been getting better over the past few months. He’s pitched at least 6 innings in each of his last 11 games and only allowed more than 2 runs in 4 of those matchups. Factor in that the Tigers’ offense is still one of the worst in the majors and we have all the makings of another brilliant outing.
Skubal is on the other end of the spectrum. He struggles more against lefties (.258 BA) than he has against righties, and while he bounced back with 6 shutout innings it was against the A’s so I don’t put that much stock into it. I do think Skubal has the stuff to bring his ERA down over the second half of the season but I don’t think he gets enough run support. Expect the Padres to close out the series and notch their third series win in a row.
Pick: Padres ML -135 (1u)
John McDonough - Sports Illustrated
San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks (3:40 ET)
Favorite: Giants -120
Pitchers: Logan Webb (2.77 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) vs. Zac Gallen (3.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)
Two of the top pitchers in baseball meet on the diamond as Logan Webb tries to carry his struggle offense to avoid a sweep to the surging Diamondbacks. The Giants have now lost 6 in a row and it’s come primarily at the hands of their offense, scoring just 16 runs over the course of the streak. They’re batting just .218 in July and need to pick it up now or they’ll get left in the shuffle of what is a deep NL Wildcard race with the Padres and loser of the Mets/Braves race taking the top two spots. Unfortunately for Webb and the Giants they run into the buzzsaw that is Zac Gallen, who saw them recently and pitched to the tune of 4 hits and 2 runs through 6.2 innings. As an encore to that performance he went 7 shutout innings on two hits. Gallen is much better in day games (1.90 ERA) and though I’m not sure how to read into that necessarily I do think that trend continues as the Giants bats struggle day after day. Most surprising of all, the Diamondbacks offense has been torching pitching staffs in July batting 4th in OPS and only improving after scoring 7+ runs in now 4 of their last 5 Games. I’ll take the dog at even money to keep that trend going and continue their creep up the standings.
Pick: Diamondbacks EVEN (1u)