After outlasting the Philadelphia Phillies (79-66) in another extra-innings thriller last night, the Atlanta Braves can officially lock up the NL East crown with another win on Wednesday. Philly will look to prevent its rival from celebrating on their home field and solidify its own NL Wild Card positioning in the final game of this four game set, with first pitch from Citizens Bank Park set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Atlanta will send ace Spencer Strider to the mound, while the Phillies counter with young lefty Cristopher Sanchez.
The Braves are -166 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with Philly at +140. The run total is set at 9.
Braves-Phillies picks: Wednesday, September 13
Out: SP Michael Soroka (forearm), RP Collin McHugh (shoulder), SP/RP Yonny Chirinos (elbow), OF Ehire Adrianza (shoulder), OF Sam Hilliard (heel), RP Nick Anderson (shoulder), RP Jesse Chavez (shin)
Spencer Strider vs. Cristopher Sanchez
Strider remains among the most talented pitchers in baseball (99th percentile in both whiff and K rate), but every time he seems ready to get on a roll, he takes a step back. He allowed just a single run over 21 innings across three starts in August, then gave up 10 in 8.2 innings across his last two — including a six-run blowup against the Cardinals last time out in which he lasted just 2.2 frames. The fact that Strider ranks in the bottom quarter of the league in barrel rate, despite his stuff being as good as it is, is an indication of his tendency to find the heart of the plate a bit too often; he doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, but when he does, they get hit very hard. He’s faced Philly twice so far this year, with 18 strikeouts and just three runs allowed over a combined 12 innings.
Sanchez struggled a bit to close August, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits in just 4.2 innings and winding up with a 4.88 ERA for the month. He bounced back last time out, though, holding the Marlins scoreless over five innings last week. The lefty’s sinker is among the best in baseball — the main reason why he has a ground-ball rate in the 97th percentile — but he needs one of either his changeup or slider to show up as well to be successful, and they’ve been a bit more inconsistent of late. He’s also yet to face the Braves in his brief career, which could be a rude awakening.
The Phillies have yet to figure Strider out this year, but I’m betting that the third time’s the charm — they’re no strangers to finding success off him at Citizens Bank Park, after all, and they’ve been among the very best offenses in baseball of late. Of course, so too has Atlanta, and the first three games of this series have an average run total of 14.3. There’s a chance we get the dominant Strider, but given his recent form, this number feels too low.
Pick: Over 9
There’s not a ton of juice on the Braves here, so I’m backing the Phils. They should be desperate to get a win here to postpone Atlanta’s divisional celebration at least one more day, and Strider can give up crooked numbers in a hurry if he doesn’t have his best command. Philly has enough firepower to salvage a split here.
Pick: Phillies +140