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Things get interesting on Friday night with a rematch of last year's World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Houston Astros. The Phillies head to Houston looking for some semblance of redemption after falling to the Astros in the World Series last Fall. Also, both teams head into their final series in April with the hope of finishing an otherwise mediocre month strong.
After taking a series against the Mariners this week with a 1-0 win on Wednesday, Philadelphia sits at .500 at 13-13. The Phillies have failed to carry over their momentum from last October into 2023, especially with just a 5-8 road record and a 1-5 record against teams with a winning record. However, the Phils are starting to turn things around with three straight series wins and an 8-3 record in their last 11 games.
Likewise, the Astros haven’t had the best April, perhaps suffering a hangover from last year’s championship. Just two weeks ago, Houston was 6-7 and sputtering. But much like the Phillies, the Astros appear to be getting their act together. They took two out of three against the Rays earlier this week to give them three straight series wins. They are now 7-2 in their last nine games, putting them neck and neck with the Rangers at the top of the AL West.
With that momentum, the Astros are home favorites in Friday’s game. DraftKings has Houston’s moneyline at -155 compared to Philadelphia’s moneyline of +135. The game also has an over/under of 7.5 runs.
The Phillies will look to Aaron Nola to help them build on their recent momentum. Unfortunately, Nola hasn't been himself this year, going 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA over his first five starts. Keep in mind that Nola gave up eight runs on 13 hits over 8.1 innings in the World Series last year, so Houston’s lineup had his number the last time they saw the righty. In his five starts this year, Nola has allowed at least three runs four times despite the Phillies winning his last two starts.
It could be up to Philly’s up-and-down lineup to lead the way on Friday, especially in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Of course, this isn’t the same lineup that took the Phillies to the World Series last year. Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins are missing in action while Kyle Schwarber has had a rough start to the season despite hitting a team-high five home runs. Meanwhile, Trea Turner and J.T. Realmuto have both fallen into a slump with Turner going 3 for 24 over his last six games. The likes of Schwarber, Alec Bohm, and Brandon Marsh are also a combined 4 for 22 (.182) against Houston starter Framber Valdez, so the Phillies could see some of their big bats neutralized early in Friday’s game.
As mentioned, it’ll be Valdez getting the start for the home team on Friday. The lefty made two starts against the Phillies in last year’s World Series, getting the win in both games while allowing just two runs on six hits over 12.1 innings. That success has carried over into 2023 for Valdez. He has allowed two runs or less in four of his five starts while pitching at least six innings in his last four starts, helping to give Valdez a 2.25 ERA. Plus, the Houston bullpen is fresh after the Astros had Thursday off whereas the Phillies played on Friday. Also, the Astros have a 2.96 bullpen ERA while the Philadelphia bullpen has been among the worst in baseball thus far.
Of course, the Astros still haven’t found their groove offensively this year, even with their improved play recently. They’ve been held to three runs or less in four of their last 10 games but have also scored at least five runs in five of their last nine games, so the consistency hasn’t been there. Keep in mind that Jose Altuve, Chas McCormick, and Michael Brantley are all on the IL while Yordan Alvarez has missed time lately with a sore neck, so the Astros are a little short-handed. On the plus side, Mauricio Dubon has been a productive replacement for Altuve while Kyle Tucker is crushing it, batting .302 with a .927 OPS his season. Jeremy Pena has also started to heat up over the past week to give the Astros another productive bat in their lineup.
Despite some lingering questions about their offense, the Astros are in excellent shape on Friday with Valdez starting and the bullpen rested. Given Nola’s early-season inconsistency and Philadelphia’s recent offensive slump, the Astros are a safe pick to win this game. It might be going too far to assume the Astros can cover the spread. But after winning a series against the Rays earlier this week, the Astros should keep it going and beat the Phillies on Friday.
The over/under of 7.5 runs is about what you’d expect with Nola and Valdez on the mound. But given the current state of things, taking the over has more value. Both teams are starting to show positive signs offensively and will be in a hitter-friendly park. Plus, Nola hasn’t been at his best this year and the Philadelphia bullpen has some holes in it. Perhaps more importantly, the Astros are one of the best teams at hitting the over, going 15-9-1 O/U this season, including 9-3-1 O/U in home games. That's enough to learn toward the over in this game.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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