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BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

MLB

BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.

Philadelphia Phillies 
2019 Record: 81-81 
2019 Profits: -6.7 units
2020 Win Total: 31.5
2020 Odds to Win NL East: +390
2020 Odds to Win NL Pennant: +1350  
2020 Odds to Win World Series:  +3000

Betting Positives: The Philadelphia Phillies should find improvement in their dugout this season as manager Gabe Kapler was fired and Joe Girardi now takes his place. Kapler had an eventful two seasons without much success. Girardi’s ability to manage a bullpen could prove to be a great benefit in a shortened season where bullpen arms will be relied on more than ever. Coupled with Girardi, the Phillies made two sizable acquisitions in shortstop Didi Gregorious and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. Wheeler has shown to be healthy and has turned in back-to-back sub 4.00 ERA seasons and will now fall in line behind Aaron Nola as the team’s second starter. Gregorius had his final season in New York shortened due to injury but had previously established himself as an above average MLB shortstop. The Phillies will also look toward superstar Bryce Harper’s second half as a sign of things to come. Post All-Star break, Harper slashed .270/.376/.564 with a .383 wOBA mark and 136 wRC+. Like most teams, Philly has holes, but bettors should like the fact that the team’s four cornerstone players — Harper, Nola, J.T. Realmuto, and Rhys Hoskins — are all in their prime. 

Betting Negatives: Despite some of the best young talent in the league, the Phillies finished 81-81 in 2019 and were fortunate in doing so as various metrics indicated they performed as a sub-.500 outfit. Some of that had to do with Kapler while Nola, Hoskins, and to a certain degree Harper (based on massive expectations), suffered through “down” seasons. But the secondary cast was a big issue and one that doesn’t appear to be all that improved and/or different in 2020. Nola and Wheeler make a nice one-two combo but Jake Arrieta, Zach Efflin, and Vincent Velasquez are all underwhelming options even as back-of-the-rotation arms. And the lack of variety of those five arms should have bettors chomping at the bit to fade the Phillies against teams that can stack their lineup with left-handed bats. And while Girardi has a solid history of managing bullpens, he will be working with a limited number of quality arms. The Phillies are projected 20th in bullpen FIP and 23rd in bullpen WAR. 

Handicapper’s Take: Among the 10 teams that make up both Eastern divisions, the Phillies are projected 7th in wins, per PECOTA standings. There’s potential for success but also a non-competitive showing with fellow contenders better built to handle to rigors of this season’s format. Last year saw Philadelphia trend UNDER the total (74-81-7 O/U) but that could reverse in 2020. The team’s power bats figure to benefit from warm temps and hitter friendly nature of Citizens Bank Park. On the other hand, the pitching staff won’t as it ranked second-worst in the NL in home runs allowed per nine innings (1.60) behind Colorado (1.68) last year. Couple that with a below average bullpen and nearly a quarter of their games against the Braves and Yankees and Philadelphia could be one of the stronger OVER teams in MLB this season.