The Philadelphia Phillies (51-52, 20-31 away) continue their three-game Pennslyvania series against the Pittsburgh Pirates (39-64, 22-29 home) with game two Saturday evening. Pittsburgh took the first matchup between the two teams Friday night, blanking the Phillies, 7-0.
Saturday’s first pitch is penciled for a 7:05 p.m. start at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. According to oddsmakers, the Phillies (-155) are the favorites, with the run total at 7.5.
What to Know – Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia’s continued it’s up and down season with a 7-8 record to begin the second half. The Phillies are 1-3 over their last four games. Philadelphia sits in second place in the National League East standings, 3.5 games behind the leading New York Mets.
Staff ace Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.37 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) takes the hill for the visitors. The right-hander closes out July looking for his third victory of the month.
Nola is 2-1 in July with a 4.05 ERA over 20.0 innings of work. In his last start, 28-year old fired 8.2 innings of one-run ball against the rival Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies rank 12th in on-base percentage (.318) and 16th in slugging percentage (.400) amongst league teams. Rhys Hoskins is having a solid season at the dish and on pace to set career marks in home runs and runs batted in but missed Friday’s contest with an injured hamstring. Veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen has found the fountain of youth at the plate with 20 home runs and 58 RBIs, both second on the team.
What to Know – Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates continue to flounder in the standings as the second half rolls on. Pittsburgh is 5-8 after the All-Star break, with a pair of four-game losing skids over the latter half of the month. The Pirates are in last place in the NL Central.
The expected starter for the Pirates is right-hander JT Brubaker (4-10, 4.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP). Brubaker hasn’t won a start since the end of May, a span of eight trips to the mound without success. The 27-year threw just four innings in his last start, coughing up a pair of solo home runs in a failed start against the San Francisco Giants.
Pittsburgh is 22nd in on-base percentage (.309) and last in the majors in slugging percentage (.367). Outfielder Bryan Reynolds made his first All-Star appearance this season and leads the Pirates in home runs (18), RBIs (58), and on-base percentage (.390). Reynolds has collected a hit in ten of the 12 games since the return from break.
The Pick is In
Looking at historical trends, the biggest one that stands out is that the Phillies are 5-0 over their last five contests after scoring two or fewer runs in the previous game. Philadelphia should tack on a handful of runs against Burbank, and Nola won’t be intimidated by Pittsburgh’s lineup.
We will fade the Pirates in this one, bypassing the moneyline and grabbing the Phillies on the run line with some better odds.
The Pick: Philadelphia Phillies +1.5