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Tonight, the Boston Red Sox host the Philadelphia Phillies as each underachieving club looks to boost its playoff stock. Boston enters this evening’s matchup having won five straight, though the defending world champs are still at arm’s length among the AL wild card scrum. Meanwhile, Philadelphia dropped consecutive weekend meetings vs. San Diego to end a four-game unbeaten run. Philly remains two games back of the final NL wildcard. This brief series will test each team’s mettle just before the regular season’s final stretch.
With Chris Sale set to undergo elbow surgery, Boston has tentatively slated middle-reliever Brian Johnson as tonight’s starter. Philadelphia counters by placing ace Aaron Nola and his 1.39 whip on the hill.
Boston on the brink
Since an opening-day letdown vs. Seattle, the chemistry that delivered Boston another world title last fall has become elusive. Currently overshadowed by New York and Tampa Bay in the AL East and running short on games with which to eclipse Oakland for the final wildcard, Boston can ill afford another loss tonight. Though, after recently sweeping Baltimore it seems the Red Sox understand their lot and are making a final run at playing beyond September.
Still, those post-All Star break losses against New York and Tampa Bay have created a steep climb back to where Boston wants to be.
Who leads the league in hits, RBI, and XBH based on your sign:
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 19, 2019
Tonight, the Red Sox must counter Philadelphia’s top gun with a stopgap bullpen measure. Left-hander Brian Johnson is game, but nothing in his record indicates he can navigate starter’s innings vs. Philadelphia’s seasoned bats. Johnson has allowed 18 runs in 22 innings pitched this year. Further, opposing teams have gained 35 hits and five home runs off the 28-year-old during his limited appearances. With a strong chance the Phillies gain early runs, Boston must rely on its elite offense to counter.
Phillies pin hopes on Nola
However, again, countering Nola won’t be easy. The 2018 Cy Young candidate is having another banner year while leading Philly to a 17-9 mark when he starts. Nola has taken four of his last five decisions and has allowed just five runs in his past 19 innings. Of course, if Philadelphia hopes to defy its mediocre road record tonight, run support is required. The team that scored 30 runs during a four-game winning streak last week has to show up. If not, Boston’s ever-present bats can chip away at the Phillies’ leaky bullpen for a griding win.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) August 18, 2019
Now would be a perfect time for J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Sean Kingery to heat up again. Of that trio, only Harper gained a hit during Sunday’s 3-2 loss vs. San Diego. Unfortunately, the former MVP had to leave that contest because of dehydration.
Two games behind the wildcard, Philly needs production from its core players while battling another talented-yet-flawed group.
- Red Sox a 2-9 in their last 11 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Red Sox are 0-4 in their last four home games vs. a team with a winning record.
- Red Sox are 4-10 in their last fourteen after allowing five runs or more in the previous game.
- Phillies are 4-0 in their last four interleague road games.
- Phillies are 4-0 in their last four games vs. a team with a winning record.
- Phillies are 9-1 in their last ten Tuesday games.
- Phillies are 5-1 in Nola’s last six games vs. a team with a winning record.
- Phillies are 5-1 in Nola’s last six interleague starts.
- Phillies are 5-1 in Nola’s last six road starts.
- Phillies are 9-2 in Nola’s last 11 Tuesday starts.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This pick comes down to two things: Can Nola offset Boston’s offense; and can Philadelphia generate any? I’ll roll with Nola’s chances tonight against a Red Sox group that underperforms at home and will need to adjust from Baltimore’s fringe-MLB arms to Nola’s borderline Cy Young arm. Also, as Boston is just 2-9 in their past 11 games vs. winning teams, I’ll side with Philadelphia to add enough offense to win today.
Full-Game Total Pick
Nola will smother Boston’s offense while Philadelphia does just enough against subpar pitching to keep the total under while winning today.