Matt's Past Picks
The two teams combined for 18 runs in Game 4. The pitchers can resemble aces in this one in Zac Gallen and Nathan Eovaldi, but Gallen is around 250 innings and he'd never previously thrown more than 190 in a year. He's tired and he's looked like it in the playoffs. Eovaldi got hit hard by the D-backs in Game 1 and a second look in less than a week bodes well for them. The Rangers' bullpen is a mess, too. The roof is open, too, with weather conducive for runs.
Andrew Heaney of the Rangers is technically a starter, but he's not really stretched out anymore. Basically, I'm expecting this to be sort of a bullpen game for the Rangers. The D-backs are using a full-on bullpen game with reliever Joe Mantiply getting the ball first. In a battle of the bullpens, I'm taking the Diamondbacks. All their late-inning arms are on two days of rest, too.
Max Scherzer hasn't looked even remotely like himself in his two playoff starts as he looks to recover from an arm injury. It's entirely possible he'll be better in this one, but the odds of him outpitching Brandon Pfaadt aren't great. Pfaadt is really locked in now and though he was awful against the Rangers in his MLB debut in May, he's made adjustments since then (added a sinker and moved on the rubber). He's been great in his last two starts. The D-backs have a better bullpen, too. I like the Snakes to grab a series lead.
Boy, was I way wrong about Game 6. I thought it was going to be an easy Phillies win with Citizens Bank Park just being party central. I'll say it was just delayed by a day. Ranger Suarez is outstanding in the playoffs and the Phillies' good relievers are rested. D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt was amazing in Game 3, but I like the quick turnaround here for the Phillies offense, especially getting him at home this time after having not scored much in Game 6. Things even out. Phillies party time. I'll say they win by multiple runs to get the better odds on the rune line (-1.5, +118).
The conditions are ripe for plenty of run scoring in Game 7 of the ALCS. So far in this series, we've seen an average of 9.5 runs per game. A compromised Max Scherzer starts in front of a very vulnerable Rangers bullpen. The Rangers started to hit Cristian Javier hard in the middle innings of Game 3 and they seem to see the ball well in Minute Maid Park. Plus, it seems like Astros setup man Bryan Abreu might be suspended and the rest of the bullpen before closer Ryan Pressly is shaky. A 5-4 game gets us a push here, but I think we get home on the over.
There's no point in fighting it any longer. The road team is the play in this series. It has won every game. The Rangers are now 7-0 on the road in the playoffs while the Astros are 1-4 at home. The Astros were 39-42 at home this series, which is in the vicinity of the Pirates and Angels. The Rangers are riding the wave of a big Game 6 while the Astros are worried about the status of setup man Bryan Abreu. The Rangers complete the job, just like the Nationals did in the 2019 World Series in Minute Maid Park.
This really isn't all that far from a 5-0 or, probably more realistic, 4-1 Phillies lead through these first five games. There's no doubt who the better team is. And now they get to play at home again, where the Phillies are 55-32 between the regular season and playoffs. Given the quick turnaround to seeing Merrill Kelly again in Citizens Bank Park, I'm wagering that the Phillies offense feasts (pheasts?). Aaron Nola is also on a great run and we don't have to worry about Craig Kimbrel getting the ball for important outs. The Phillies will win this thing by multiple runs, so I'm playing the run line (-1.5, +115) for better odds.
As noted yesterday, I have the Phillies in five here and I'm just going to play the Phillies every game, assuming that I miss one and hit four of the five. Game 3 was my miss. Specifically, I don't think the Diamondbacks' bullpen is deep enough to stay steady for a whole bullpen game. I do think Christopher Sanchez will give quality innings before the Phillies' bullpen is dipped into. Plus, the Phillies have the more explosive offense and it might turn into a slugfest. Finally, this is a pretty low number for the clearly better team.
The over hit with ease in each of the first two Arlington games this series and it moves down to 9 here. That would be due to the pitching matchup of Justin Verlander vs. Jordan Montgomery, who squared off in a 2-0 Rangers win in Game 1. Neither pitcher in indestructible and with a quick turnaround for each lineup having just seen each pitcher less than a week ago, the bats will rule this game again. I'm expecting Montgomery to look more like he did in his start against the Orioles and Verlander was much more vulnerable than his stat line looked through his two playoff starts. The Rangers' bullpen is battered, too. It might be Astros-heavy here, but we'll get to 10 runs.
I was already leaning toward the over in this game. Both offenses are primed to go against a number four starter (Jose Urquidy) and a likely tandem from the Rangers (Andrew Heaney and Dane Dunning) in a ballpark where both smoke the ball. Now word has come down that the roof will be open and the ball flies in that park with the roof open, almost to the extreme. It becomes one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors. Ride that over.
I had the Phillies in five in this series and logic dictates that I should just play the Phillies every game instead of trying to guess which game the Diamondbacks will win. They have the advantage here in pitching with Ranger Suarez looking really strong lately. He also threw seven scoreless earlier this season in Arizona. Brandon Pfaadt isn't as bad as his numbers look, but the Phillies can get to him. They are too good and too hot right now to stop.
The Astros are just bad at home and amazing on the road. It's well past time of figuring out why and instead simply embracing it. They averaged 5.7 runs per game in the regular season on the road and scored 58 runs in their six games in Arlington, including seven runs in three innings against Max Scherzer. I think Scherzer will be compromised, which means trouble and then the Rangers' bullpen, which isn't very good. Plus, Cristian Javier was nearly unhittable in the ALDS and has a career 1.91 postseason ERA.
D-backs starter Zac Gallen was nearly two runs worse on the road this season (2.47 ERA at home, 4.42 on road) and had some shaky moments in his first two playoff wins. The Brewers and Dodgers kind of let him off the hook and I don't expect that to happen with the Phillies at home. Zack Wheeler and the Phillies' power arms in the bullpen mostly held down the Braves in the NLDS, so I'm expecting the same to happen here. There will be room for comfort, so I'm grabbing the run line (-1.5, +130).
As mentioned on Early Edge this morning, I don't like the Braves' demeanor. They are, as people like to say, shook. You've got Travis d'Arnaud out here blaming the media for betraying the "sanctuary" that is the clubhouse. C'mon. We get plus money thanks to Spencer Strider getting the ball, but the Phillies won this same matchup in Game 1 in Atlanta. The raucous Philly crowd feeds them. They're gonna do it.
Dodgers starter Lance Lynn has been better with the Dodgers, but that's still a 4.36 ERA and his home run rate has gone up. He gave up 44 all season, leading the majors. The D-backs counter with rookie Brandon Pfaadt. The Dodgers saw him earlier this season in Chase Field and scored four runs in 4 2/3 innings. I'm expecting more damage this time, as they are just about to bust out from their funk after leaving so many on base in Game 2. Neither bullpen will be dominant, either. Expect a busy scoreboard operator.