A version of this article originally appeared on the Action Network. For more information on betting, see ActionNetwork.com.
Phillies odds: -160
National odds: +140
Over / Under: 8.5
Time: Thursday, 4:05 p.m. ET
TV: MLB network
Philadelphia will play four games in Washington on Thursday after beating the Nationals with 21:14 in the series’ first three games. The Phillies have won four straight wins, climbing to first place in the NL East in just 1.5 games behind the New York Mets.
The Nationals were big sellers at close of trade, shipping out most of their core and starting to rebuild around Juan Soto. They are fourth in NL East and only 6-9 against Philadelphia this year.
Harper heats up for Phillies
It’s been a somewhat strange season for alleged ace of the Phillies, Aaron Nola (RHP). At 21 starts this year, he holds a 4.30 ERA, which would be his worst mark since 2016. However, its 3.47 FIP shows that it may not be as bad as it appears. In a few games he looked, as expected, elitist; others he really fought.
Despite the mixed results, Nola’s 10.76 K / 9 rate is higher than his career average and his BB% is the lowest in his career. As Nola himself admits, he’s struggled to get out of innings this year. He has admitted a 7.18 ERA with two outs this season. He has allowed more than half of his runs and half of his walks with two downs.
Since the beginning of July, only the Dodgers have scored more runs than the Phillies. Philadelphia has the second highest wOBA in the league over this distance.
It feels like people aren’t talking enough about how good Bryce Harper has been lately. Last month he beats .383 with a 1.184 OPS. In the past two weeks he hit .422 with a 1,358 OPS. And for the past week he’s been a glowing .455 with a 1,477 OPS.
The former MVP is second in batting average and OPS for the last month and doesn’t seem getting enough recognition to get the Phillies back into playoff competition.
Up-and-down year for Nationals’ steed
It’s been a story from any other game for Joe Ross (RHP) lately. In the last 10 starts of Ross, he has not allowed any deserved runs in five of them and a total of 18 runs in the other five. In his final start, he allowed five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. So his next start should be a good one, right?
In total, Ross has made 18 starts this season, holding a 4.00 ERA and 4.46 FIP. He’s made good trips, but when he’s gone it’s been bad. Ross throws his sinker 45.6% of the time and has approved a .349 woBA this year. He only throws his fastball about 16% of the time, but he was hit hard when he did.
The Nationals offensive has been really good this season. They occupy third place in the batting average and eighth place in the WOBA. However, last week they swapped off the offensive pieces Trea Turner, Josh Harrison, Yan Gomes, and Kyle Schwarber.
Fortunately, they still have Juan Soto. Since the All-Star break, Soto has beaten .343 with a 1,184 OPS and has seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 19 games.
This is a very difficult handicap matchup. Both pitchers were on outings when they turned off the lights, but they also had many bumpy starts. If you look at their totals as a whole, they both have an ERA of at least 4.00 and were just average for much of the season.
While Nola has had some dominant starts, they have mostly made it home. In 12 away games, he has a 5.29 ERA compared to 3.18 at Citizens Bank Park.
Ross, on the other hand, was much worse at home and has set a 5.32 ERA in DC this year with just a 2-5 record in eight starts. He will face the Phillies for the third time this season, and Jean Segura and JT Realmuto stand together 17:37 (.459) against Ross in their careers.
I mentioned above how great Harper has been lately and he absolutely set his former team on fire. In 13 games against the Nationals this season, Harper has hit every single one, beating .417 with five home runs, nine RBIs and 15 runs scored.
The total was exceeded in each of the first three games in this series, and I will support them in the final game as well.
I also recommend sprinkling Bryce Harper a little over a total of 1.5 bases. He’s absolutely on fire and loved picking on his former team all season. I’m going to throw a little at him to keep it going.
Choose: Over 8.5 runs (-110) | Sprinkle: Harper over a total of 1.5 bases