Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals
First pitch: 1:15 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Probable pitchers: Aaron Nola (2-1, 2.84 ERA) vs. Kwang-Hyun Kim (1-0, 4.15 ERA)
One name constantly lost in Cy Young conversations that has to be there is Nola.
Once again, here is the former No. 7 overall draft pick producing top-flight work. If his 2.84 ERA doesn’t do it for you, maybe that shiny 32-4 K/BB ratio in 31.2 innings will. Nola also has his lowest WHIP (0.98) since his breakout season of 2018.
Yeah, it’s only been five starts but this is just what Nola does. He’s not only a legitimate ace, but someone also capable of taking hardware at the end of the year. And this afternoon he gets an opponent whom he just shut down for his best performance of the campaign — arguably of his career, too — only a couple of weeks ago, when he strung together a two-hit shutout with 10 K’s and no walks.
Being a getaway-day matinee after a night game, Nola figures to draw an at-least-slightly downgraded lineup. No matter what, he won’t have to worry about Yadi Molina (foot) in the lineup.
The Phillies will also be without one major piece in Bryce Harper (face) after the superstar slugger got drilled in the face by a Genesis Cabrera fastball. Fortunately, Harper was able to evade serious injury.
Either way, it’s a strong boost for the other starter in this series finale, Kim. And like how his counterpart is underrated relative to the other big names in the National League, Kim is under the radar in general.
It’s understandable: Kim just only debuted in the Majors last year after a lengthy career overseas in the KBO. While that isn’t the highest level of competition outside MLB, Kim is proving that doesn’t matter based on his impressive results.
I mean, this is a guy who in seven starts (and one relief appearance) in his debut season etched a 1.62 ERA (!) and 1.03 WHIP while holding opposing batters below the Mendoza Line. The only concern were his low strikeouts numbers but through a pair of solid starts to begin this year, Kim is punching out 12.46 K/9.
Obviously that won’t sustain in the long-term but Kim does have a quality opportunity to at least maybe maintain something close to that for one more outing. With a left-hander throwing, the Phils strike out once every three at-bats.
At the very least, I see Kim’s overall game as a sign of picking up where he left off. Pair that with the high-end craftsmanship of Nola and pitching will rule this matchup.
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UNDER 7 @ -115 (Click to bet)
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Thursday's MLB Leans
Cubs-Braves Under 9.5
2021 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*: 14-12-1, +0.58 unit
Yesterday’s Result: Marlins-Brewers Under 8 (“Push”)
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