There’s only one series still going in the Divisional Round of the MLB playoffs, but thankfully, it’s the one with the most storylines. The Braves and the Phillies will square off this evening with the home team just a single win away from advancing to the NLCS for the second consecutive season. ‘Atta boy, Philadelphia.
Let’s dive into your betting options for Game 4.
This is a fair line considering the potency of both of these lineups, yet I still find myself leaning towards a low-scoring script. Let’s start with the obvious. Spencer Strider is quite good. Though there was the occasional blow-up throughout 2023, Strider finished the regular season ranking second among all qualified starters in FIP (2.85) and expected ERA (3.04). He was also first in strikeout rate by a considerable margin (36.8%), which should come as a shock to literally no one.
I think it’s worth pointing out Strider’s specific success against the Phillies, as well. The RHP threw 26.0 innings versus Philadelphia during the regular season — his most of any single opponent — maintaining a pristine 2.42 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in the process. Heck, the Phillies only managed to slash .192/.225/.287 off Strider in these four starts, and that’s not even including Game 1 of this series, where Strider conceded just one earned run across seven strong frames. He simply will not be afraid to pitch in this spot.
I’m a little less confident in Ranger Suarez’s ability to keep the Braves off the scoreboard, but the lefty will be backed by a very well-rested Phillies’ bullpen. Suarez faced only 13 batters in his Game 1 start and I’d anticipate a similar role for the veteran on Thursday evening. Still, Atlanta didn’t score off Suarez last week. They didn’t score at all. The Braves are hitting below the Mendoza line as a team in the NLDS and have managed a microscopic .525 OPS. Atlanta’s power-laded lineup remains terrifying, yet as we all saw Wednesday with the Dodgers, sometimes a cold streak can last a whole series.
Strider isn’t exactly Noah Syndergaard when it comes to stolen bases allowed, yet the Cy Young candidate did surrender 19 steals when on the mound during the regular season — the 14th-most of any pitcher. If Game 1 was any indication, the Phillies are aware of this minor flaw. Philadelphia stole five bases on Saturday, with Stott and Brandon Marsh victimizing Strider. I think it’s safe to assume the Phillies will once again be aggressive, particularly if runs are at a premium.
Another thing to keep an eye on with these props is who ends up starting at catcher for the Braves. It was Sean Murphy behind the dish on the weekend, but Travis d’Arnaud has started Game 2 and Game 3. This likely has more to do with Murphy’s second-half struggles with the bat than as punishment for Philadelphia running wild in Game 1. In fact, I’d prefer if d’Arnaud continued to draw the starting assignment. According to Baseball Savant’s Caught Stealing Above Average metric, Murphy is by far the better arm at backstop. He’s actually one of the best in baseball. Conversely, d’Arnaud is one of the worst, catching just 9% of base stealers in 2023 and showcasing an incredibly slow pop time.
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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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