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Phillies vs. Braves NLDS Game 3 prediction: Expect a pitchers’ duel

Will Strider and Nola keep the bats quiet on Friday?

Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies will pitch Friday in the first home Phillies playoff game since 2011. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies will pitch Friday in the first home Phillies playoff game since 2011. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)Read moreLogan Riely / Getty Images

For the first time this series and second time this postseason, the Philadelphia Phillies are the betting favorites. Of course this is also Philadelphia’s first home game of the playoffs and they’re only -112, but nonetheless it looks like the Phillies will have to shed their underdog status for at least nine innings on Friday.

Phillies vs. Braves Prediction: Pick

F5 Under 2.5 (+142, FanDuel)

Phillies vs. Braves Prediction: Analysis

After much deliberation, the Atlanta Braves decided to hand the ball to Rookie of the Year frontrunner Spencer Strider for the first 2 to 3 innings on Friday before turning the game over to a bullpen that posted a 3.85 xFIP over the season.

The 23-year-old is making his playoff debut and hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18 due to an oblique injury.

Nonetheless, it’s hard not to be impressed with what the Ohio native has cooked up this season. Strider has logged a 2.67 ERA in 131.2 innings and his peripheral data suggests he’s earned that statline, and perhaps deserves a bit better. Not only does Strider boast a 2.30 xFIP, but he ranks in the 99th percentile in strikeout rate, 97th percentile in expected batting average, 96th percentile in xwOBA and is above league average when it comes to batted ball data (per StatCast).

How Strider reacts to the biggest start in his career after a month layoff is hard to project, but the numbers all sparkle.

Strider will likely need to bring his A-game, because he won’t have much margin for error against Aaron Nola. The longest-tenured Phillie posted a 3.25 ERA to go along with a 2.74 xERA and 2.77 xFIP in 205 innings of work in the regular season and then backed that up with 6.2 scoreless innings in Game 2 of the Wild Card Round against the Cardinals. Nola ranks in the 69th percentile in average exit velocity, 92nd percentile in hard hit rate, 85th percentile in strikeout rate and 99th percentile in walk rate this season.

Both of these lineups rank inside the top-12 leaguewide in wRC+ against right-handed pitching, but the matchup on Friday sets up for a play on the Over/Under in the First 5 Innings. Not only do both of these pitchers do a great job racking up strikeouts, but both hurlers are adept at inducing weak contact and allowed under 0.85 home runs per 9 innings over the regular season.

The fact that the Braves bullpen will take over in the fourth or fifth inning may not seem ideal for a bet on the F5 under, but it does give Atlanta the flexibility to get favorable matchups as we flip through the order the second time.

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