Philadelphia suddenly has the National League East lead within its sights. The Phillies enter Wednesday’s action just 1.5 games back of New York at the top of the standings. They opened this series at the nation’s capital with a pair of wins. Washington is 6.5 games back in the NL East—this story was published prior to Wednesday night’s game.
Nola looking for third straight quality startPhiladelphia has not been playing its best baseball, but it has taken advantage of a losing spell from division-leading New York. The Phillies closed their series at Pittsburgh with a 15-4 win on Sunday and were able to build on that momentum with wins over Washington on Monday and Tuesday. They are now just 1.5 games behind New York at the top of the NL East, as the Mets losing streak continued on Tuesday. Philadelphia is seven games back of the second NL Wild Card spot, so it understands the importance of winning the division. The Phillies have been decent offensively, ranked No. 14 with a team batting average of .243.
Shortstop Jean Segura leads the team with 95 hits and a .307 average. Right fielder Bryce Harper has 91 hits, including 17 home runs. First baseman Rhys Hoskins has been the Phillies' best power hitter, smashing 23 homers. They will be facing a Washington pitching staff that is No. 17 with a team ERA of 4.42. Right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola will start for Philadelphia. He allowed two runs across six innings against Pittsburgh in his last outing. Nola has thrown back-to-back quality starts, but inconsistency has plagued him this season. He will be hoping to throw another quality start on Thursday and improve his 4.30 ERA.
Nationals hoping to play spoilerWashington is technically still in the playoff hunt, but its moves at the trade deadline would suggest a re-build is in progress. The Nationals shipped away leading hitter Trea Turner and also dealt slugger Kyle Schwarber. They sent ace Max Scherzer to the Dodgers, leaving the cupboard bare to finish this season. Washington has lost three of its last four games and is 6.5 games back of New York in the NL East standings. Its offense ranks third in the MLB with a team batting average of .258, but that is expected to drop following the moves made at the trade deadline.
Left fielder Juan Soto is left in charge of the offense after the departures of Turner, Schwarber and Josh Harrison. He is batting .299 and has 100 hits this season. First baseman Josh Bell is the only other big name in the lineup on a daily basis, hitting .248 with 18 home runs. They are facing a Philadelphia pitching staff that is No. 19 with a team ERA of 4.49. Right-handed pitcher Joe Ross is expected to start for Washington on Thursday. He allowed five runs across 4.1 innings in a loss to the Cubs in his last start. It was the shortest outing since May 26 for Ross, who now has a 4.00 ERA through 96.2 innings.
- 5-1 in Nola's last six starts during game four of a series
- 1-6 in its last seven home games vs. a team with a winning record
- 1-5 in Ross's last six starts vs. the NL East
- 3-12 in its last 15 Thursday games
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
I do not understand why this line is not bigger on the favorite. Philadelphia has the NL East lead within view, while Washington is clearly building towards next season. The Nationals gave away almost all of their offensive firepower at last week’s trade deadline. The only reason the line should ever be close between these teams is if the pitching matchup is in Washington’s favor. That is not the case on Thursday afternoon, as these starters are comparable. I expect Philadelphia to take care of business in this one, providing a cheap line for bettors.
Full-Game Total Pick
These are a pair of veteran pitchers who do not give up crooked numbers very often. Washington is a team that I want to bet under due to the moves it made at the trade deadline. Not only did the Nationals ship away their leading hitter in Turner, but they also got rid of Harrison and Schwarber. This team is not going to remain in the top five as far as team batting average is concerned. Philadelphia is currently missing Andrew McCutchen due to an injury and its lineup has struggled with consistency throughout the year.