The Philadelphia Phillies have a good shot at an upset when the Atlanta Braves come to visit on Sunday.
One reason is that the real Cole Hamels appears to be finally standing up. The Phillies’ starter struggled mightily in the first half of 2013 (4-11 with a 4.05 ERA), but he’s turned matters around in the second half (2-2 with a 2.39 ERA).
The difference in his pitching can be symbolized by the differing performances he registered against these Braves early in the year compared to recently. On opening day, Hamels was torched for seven hits and five runs in just five innings of work. But when he faced the same club on August 12, he was a different pitcher. In that contest, he threw a complete game, yielding only six hits, one walk and one run while striking out nine.
In both of those outings, Hamels threw on the road. He will get the added advantage of pitching at home in this one.
The Braves are the best home club in the National League, but when forced outside of their friendly confines they are merely a .500 winning percentage team.
Compounding the Braves’ problems here is the fact that Paul Maholm is their starting pitcher. Maholm has been comprehensively scuffling in the second half. In four starts he’s 1-4 with a 6.98 ERA. Pick the Phillies to win at 1.72.
Expect a lot of runs when the Toronto Blue Jays go to Minnesota to face the Twins. Both starting pitchers are prone to get hit around.
The Blue Jays Esmil Rogers is 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA. After being pretty reliable to start the season, he’s been banged around badly since the All Star break (2nd half stats: 1-3 with a 6.50 ERA).
Andrew Albers overall numbers look better – he’s 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA. But those statistics don’t really reflect how he’s been pitching. After giving up zero runs in his first 17 1/3 innings, he’s been crushed. In his past four starts he’s given up 18 runs in just 21 1/3 innings.
With Target Field playing in the top half of stadiums in terms of run scoring, advantage goes to the hitters in this match up. Take over 8.5 runs at 1.82.
Back the Philadelphia Phillies to beat the Atlanta Braves at 1.72
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