Phillies at Rockies Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 6/14/2013
The Philadelphia Phillies and Colorado Rockies ... what to make of them? Is either really a true playoff contender? Certainly Colorado thinks so at 35-31 entering Thursday's finale against Washington and just two games behind Arizona in the very winnable NL West. I'm not so sure. The Rockies are one of the best offensive teams in the league, thanks largely to NL MVP candidates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez (and hitter-friendly Coors Field). Colorado ranks in the Top 5 in most significant offensive categories. However, can Tulowitzki stay healthy? He's a Top-10 player in baseball when he can, but he always seems to be battling one ailment or another. Car-Go also hasn't been Mr. Healthy the past few seasons.
And then you have the pitching staff, which remains a big question mark. That's why you know the Rockies were thrilled that Oklahoma pitcher Jonathan Gray got past the Cubs in last week's draft and Colorado snapped him up at No. 3. The Rockies will not lure any big-time free-agent pitchers because they don't want to see their numbers inflated and cost them another contract down the line. So the Rockies either need to draft or trade for young pitching. Gray looks like a potential future ace.
The Phillies really are caught between rebuilding and trying for one more run. They entered Thursday's series finale at Minnesota having lost five straight to drop to 31-35. The Phils are not going to win the NL East. The Braves have a comfortable lead in the division, and the second-place Nationals figure to get things going at some point. And the Phillies are actually farther out of the wild-card race than they are the division because the NL Central's Reds and Pirates are playing so well yet behind St. Louis in that division.
In my opinion, the Phils should sell. Cliff Lee could be the best pitcher available on the trade market, but he's owed $62.5 million after this year and can block trades to 21 teams, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles and Rangers. All four of those teams could use pitching, and the Rangers know Lee well. Second baseman Chase Utley would be a great addition for any team and is in the final year of his contract, but he also has a no-trade clause to 21 teams and is currently on the DL with an oblique injury. Barring a hot streak in the next month or so, look for the Phillies to finally start rebuilding and be sellers ahead of the July 31 deadline.
Friday's series opener is the first meeting of the season between the Rockies and Phillies. Philadelphia won seven of nine against Colorado in 2012 and two of three at Coors Field.
Phillies at Rockies Betting Story Lines
Philadelphia outfielder Domonic Brown was long considered one of the best prospects in the game but didn't live up to it until this season at age 25 (you aren't a prospect any longer at 25). Brown entered 2013 with 12 career home runs in 147 career big-league games over three seasons. Now he leads the National League with 19 (all stats entering Thursday). At one point, he hit 17 homers in a 39-game span. He's killing pitches that are up in the zone and not letting defensive mistakes carry over into his at-bats. The Phils still aren't a good offensive team, however, because no regular is hitting .300, and Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins are shells of their former all-star selves. Howard's contract has to be one of the five-worst in baseball right now. Philadelphia also remains without all-star catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has been on the DL since May 20.
The Phils will face Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio (4-2, 4.61). He had one of his better starts of the season last time out, holding the Padres to two earned runs on four hits, striking out seven in six innings. The bullpen will be involved in Friday's game as Nicasio hasn't lasted more than six innings this year. Nicasio has never pitched against the Phillies. The 26-year-old has been better at home (4.31 ERA, .214 average allowed) than the road (4.86/.273).
The two guys closest to Brown in the home-run chase are the Rockies' Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Tulowitzki is in the Triple Crown conversation, ranking No. 2 to the Cardinals' Yadier Molina in batting average, No. 3 in home runs and No. 4 in RBI. Gonzalez is ahead of Tulowitzki in the latter two but is hitting way lower at .299. Tulowitzki plays such a premium position, shortstop, that I think he will be the NL MVP over Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt if both teams make the postseason and Tulo can stay on the field.
The Rockies will face Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.22). He has thrown three straight quality starts, and the Phils have won two of them. Kendrick has been Philadelphia's second-best pitcher after Lee with Cole Hamels a disaster this year and Roy Halladay injured. Kendrick is 3-2 with a 4.63 ERA in 46.2 career innings against the Rockies. Todd Helton has faced him the most among the Rockies with four hits in 12 at-bats. Tulowitzki is 3-for-11, all singles, and Gonzalez is 1-for-9. The only Rockie with a homer off Kendrick is catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
Phillies at Rockies MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline the Rockies opened at -126 and the Phillies at +116 with a total of 10.5. All trends entering Thursday: The Phillies are 33-32-1 “over/under” (14-21 on road) and 37-29 on the runline. The Rockies are 35-29-2 O/U (17-18-1 at home) and 32-34 on the runline.
Philadelphia is 2-5 in its past seven series openers. The Phillies are 1-4 in their past five Friday games and 0-4 in their past four on the road against right-handed starters. Philly is 7-2 in Kendrick's past nine series-opening starts. The Phils are 6-2 in Kendrick's past eight starts against teams with a winning record. The Rockies are 7-3 in their past 10 home games against right-handed starters. Colorado is 2-8 in its past 10 series openers. The Rockies are 4-1 in Nicasio's past five Game 1 starts. The over is 4-0 in Philadelphia's past four Friday games. The over is 4-1 in Kendrick's past five Game 1 starts. The over is 5-0 in Nicasio's past five home starts against teams with a losing record. The Phillies are 13-3 in the past 16 in Colorado. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Phillies at Rockies Picks and Betting Predictions
The Phillies have to travel from Minnesota after Thursday night's game, and I always believed the first game at Colorado was toughest on visitors because of the altitude. The Rockies, meanwhile, will be better-rested after playing at home Thursday afternoon. Take Colorado and the over.
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