Zach Wheeler and Charlie Morton will duel once again on Friday night. The two pitchers faced off in Philadelphia last week, when Wheeler was nearly untouchable in a 4-0 Phillies victory. He allowed just one hit, recorded 10 strikeouts in seven innings and retired the last 17 men he faced. Morton matched Wheeler with zeros through four innings, but the Phillies mounted a two-out rally against him in the fifth that led to three runs. The Braves have lost four of their first six games this season while the Phillies are off to a 5-1 start
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET
Moneyline pick: Phillies +114
Wheeler won’t be as sterling as the Braves get a second look at him, but you should still give the pitching edge here to the Phillies, especially with the issues in Atlanta’s bullpen. Setup man Chris Martin is dealing with numbness in his fingers, and closer Will Smith has been scored upon in back-to-back appearances. Meanwhile, Phillies closer Hector Neris has been strong early on. It’s risky to bet against any good team in its home opener, but those pitching concerns would make me shy away from the Braves here.
Player Prop: Freddie Freeman O1.5 hits (+187)
I think Wheeler is ready to turn in a career year, but it still stands that Freeman has owned him throughout his career. Last year’s National League MVP has 17 hits in 38 at-bats versus Wheeler. That includes two home runs, if you feel compelled to bet that Freeman will go deep today (+400). Freeman is just 2-for-18 thus far, but there is some bad luck sprinkled in there. His expected slugging percentage is a robust .704, and he has a 60% hard-hit rate. It may be too simple to say he’s due to breakout, but the underlying metrics make that case.
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