It’s a World Series rematch in Houston this weekend, as the Philadelphia Phillies travel south to kick off a three-game set with the Astros on Friday night. First pitch from Minute Maid Park is set for 8:10 p.m. ET. Aaron Nola (1-2, 5.40 ERA) will look to get back on track for the Phils against Astros ace Framber Valdez (2-2, 2.25).
The Astros are -145 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Phillies check in as +125 underdogs. The run total is set at 7.5.
Phillies-Astros picks: Friday, April 28
Day to day: SP Taijuan Walker (forearm)
Out: RP Andrew Bellatti (triceps), 1B Darick Hall (thumb), 1B Rhys Hoskins (knee), RP Nick Nelson (hamstring), SP Ranger Suarez (elbow), OF Bryce Harper (elbow)
Day to day: OF Yordan Alvarez (neck)
Out: OF Chas McCormick (back), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb), OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Aaron Nola vs. Framber Valdez
It’s been a bumpy ride this season for Nola, who has a nasty habit of alternating between looking like an ace some years and getting knocked around in others. He’s traditionally a slow starter, so it’s best not to overreact, but there are real causes for concern after allowing three runs over seven innings last time out against the Colorado Rockies. Chief among them: Nola’s curveball, long his put-away pitch, isn’t putting away nearly as many hitters, with a much higher batting average allowed and a much lower whiff rate than last year. Without that in his back pocket, he has to rely on other, lesser offerings, which has led to some loud contact.
Valdez, meanwhile, has been his same old self, with a nasty mid-90s sinker that he throws over 40 percent of the time and produces ground balls at league-high rates. His walk rate is down, his strikeout rate is up, and he should once again be one of the AL’s preeminant workhorses this season.
This is a low number, but with good reason, as both of these offenses have been surprisingly pedestrian this year — and thinned out by key injuries. Nola should at least avoid an implosion, while Valdez will likely keep the Phillies off the board and help the under cash.
Pick: Under 7.5
We’ll believe that Nola can recapture his 2022 form when we see it (or at least when he gets the feel for his curveball back). When he’s not inducing swings and misses, he becomes very hittable, and even a depleted Astros lineup should be able to scratch across enough runs to take advantage with Valdez on the mound.