MLB

Desperate Phillies Host Lowly Cubs

Tuesday begins a three-game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs in the City of Brotherly Love. The Cubs have been relegated to the role of spoiler at this point of the season, and they’ll have a perfect opportunity to embrace that role on Tuesday. The Phillies are starting to see their playoff hopes slip in both the NL East race and the crowded Wild Card race.

According to BetUS, the Phillies are heavy favorites in Tuesday’s series opener with a moneyline of -185. Meanwhile, Chicago’s moneyline is set at +165. The game also has a rather ambitious over/under of 9.5 runs.

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Where Are They Now?

The Phillies appear to be in the midst of a collapse at the wrong time of year. They’ve lost five of their last six games and are just 4-7 in September. Needless to say, that’s not going to get the job done, as they have fallen 4.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East despite being just 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Likewise, the Cubs have lost three in a row after getting swept at home by the Giants over the weekend. Chicago has been out of the playoff race since before the trade deadline and is officially out of contention in the NL Central. That being said, the Cubs had won eight of nine games before welcoming the Giants to Wrigley Field last weekend.

The New Sampson

On Tuesday, the Cubs will give a start to journeyman Adrian Sampson. The 29-year-old has a career ERA of 5.37 but a 2.20 ERA in two starts and four relief appearances in 2021. He held the Reds to two runs on six hits over five innings in a start last week and should be ready to give the Cubs at least five solid innings on Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, the Phillies have seen their bats go quiet over the past week. Since scoring 12 runs in a shocking win over Brandon Woodruff and the Brewers last Monday, the Phillies have averaged just three runs per game over their last six games. Bryce Harper has continued to carry the Philadelphia lineup, with Jean Segura also remaining hot in recent days, but the rest of the batting order has contributed next to nothing over the past week.

Not Friendly with the Phillies

Kyle Gibson will be tasked with trying to get the Phillies back on track in Tuesday’s game. He pitched like an ace with the Rangers this year but has a modest 4.60 ERA in eight appearances since being traded to the Phillies. Things are only getting worse for Gibson, who has allowed 11 runs on 15 hits over 10.2 innings during his two starts in September.

The only question is whether the Cubs still have the bats to take advantage of a pitcher who’s struggling at the moment. Over their last six games, the Cubs are only averaging 3.5 runs per game, which isn’t much better than the Phillies. Frank Schwindel continues to be a revelation while Ian Happ has stepped up after Chicago traded several star players, although the rest of the lineup has been in a considerable slump lately.

The Verdict

With the Phillies losing five of their last six games and sending a starting pitcher to the mound who’s been dreadful in September, there isn’t much value in taking the Phillies as a favorite. That’s not to say that the Cubs have a ton of value, but there is more upside in picking Chicago to win this game. Likewise, with both teams averaging 3.5 runs or less over the past week, there is plenty of value by picking the under on 9.5 total runs in this game.

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