Phillies

Are Phillies' odds to win National League an overreaction by Vegas?

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Are Phillies' odds to win National League an overreaction by Vegas?

On opening day, the Phillies' odds to win the National League were 40/1.

A week before the trade deadline, they are 6/1, according to Bovada.

The Phils have come a long, long way since those final few days of March and the national perception of this team has changed completely. 

As of Thursday, the only two teams with shorter odds to win the NL pennant were the Dodgers (3/1) and Cubs (7/2). These odds were released after the Dodgers acquired Manny Machado.

It's interesting to see the Phillies so high on the list, even though they entered Sunday's doubleheader a dozen games over .500 and with the NL's second-best record. Vegas obviously expects the Phillies to add a piece or two before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The other reason the Phils' odds are shorter than those of the Diamondbacks (15/2) and Brewers (8/1) is that the Phillies are favored to win the NL East. So even if teams like Arizona and Milwaukee have more talent or end up with a better record than the Phillies, those clubs would most likely be participating in the wild-card game. The Dodgers and Cubs are heavily favored to hold on to win their divisions.

The Phillies are narrowly favored to win the NL East. They are +155, while the Braves are +165 and the Nationals are +200. (This means that a $100 bet on the Phillies would win you $155.)

The Braves entered Sunday a half-game behind the Phillies. They've won two in a row after losing eight of 10. 

As for the Nationals, things just keep getting worse. Washington is a game under .500 at 48-49, and they've taken L's both on and off the field this weekend. There was the dugout confrontation between Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg on Friday, and then the news Sunday that All-Star closer Sean Doolittle is dealing with a stress reaction in his foot that will keep him out at least another few weeks.

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Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Analyzing the roads ahead for Phillies and Braves

Exactly a month from today, the Phillies and Braves will meet for the first time since May 23.

The Phillies have 27 games between now and then; the Braves have 29.

The Phils missed a golden chance to pick up ground in the NL East race this weekend by losing the final two games of the Mets series while the Braves were swept at home in a four-game series against the Rockies.

As a result, the Phillies are a half-game back in the division with the regular season 75 percent complete. The wild-card picture is crowded, with the Phillies currently tied with the Rockies and Brewers.

What's been going on with the Braves?

Prior to being swept by the Rockies, the Braves had gone nearly three weeks without losing two in a row. They've been carried lately by rookie Ronald Acuña Jr., who on Sunday did not reach base to begin the game. It was notable because he had reached base to lead off nine games in a row, the longest streak in 18 years.

The Braves have some challenging series ahead but will be a threat down to the final days of the season because of their dynamic top-of-the-order and the consistently solid, clutch production from Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. Whether or not you believe in "clutch," the icy, contained, contact-heavy approach Freeman and Markakis have in pressure situations sets them up for more success than most with runners in scoring position.

In the rotation, lefty Sean Newcomb has allowed five-plus runs in four of his last eight starts. Kevin Gausman has been a valuable addition so far, allowing two runs in six innings, one in eight and three in five since the trade from Baltimore.

The Braves' bullpen has been shaky. With closer Arodys Vizcaino on the DL, second-year lefty A.J. Minter has been closing games. He had an ugly meltdown Saturday night with two outs, nobody on and the Braves ahead 3-0. He's blown two of his last six games.

The upcoming schedules

The Braves have just one off day between Aug. 20 and Sept. 13. 

They begin a seven-game road trip tonight — three in Pittsburgh, four in Miami. 

The Pirates have faded from contention but are a pesky team that makes a lot of contact and has a very good bullpen combination with Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela. These should be low-scoring games.

The Braves are 7-1 against the Marlins since the All-Star break. Miami can't be relied on for much spoiling at this juncture.

Following that for the Braves is a nine-game homestand against the Rays (2), Cubs (1), Pirates (3) and Red Sox (3).

Hopefully, the Red Sox still care about wins and losses two weeks from now. Their lead is so big. 

After that comes a real test for the Braves, a late-season, seven-game West Coast road trip to Arizona and San Francisco. The Diamondbacks are in the thick of the race and the Giants are on the periphery but still far from a doormat. 

The Phillies, meanwhile, have just one series left all season outside the Eastern Time Zone.

After that West Coast trip, the Braves have three with the Nationals, three with the Cardinals, then come the Phillies.

Just to review, the Braves' schedule leading up to Phillies series:

• 3 at Pirates
• 4 at Marlins
• 2 vs. Rays
• 1 vs. Cubs
• 3 vs. Pirates
• 3 vs. Red Sox
• 4 at Diamondbacks
• 3 at Giants
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cardinals

And the Phillies' schedule leading up to that point:

• 3 at Nationals
• 3 at Blue Jays
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Cubs
• 3 at Marlins
• 3 at Mets
• 3 vs. Nationals
• 3 vs. Marlins
• 3 vs. Mets

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Krukcast: Memories from Little League

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Krukcast: Memories from Little League

On this edition of Krukcast, Gregg Murphy and John Kruk share memories of Little League Baseball. Kruk on what it was like covering the Little League World Series. Also, the guys discuss what they hope today's kids experience playing in Little League.

1:00 - Kruk was a dominant Little Leaguer.
5:00 - What made Little League so enjoyable.
9:00 - Lessons Kruk learned growing up in Little League.
14:00 - Covering the LLWS.

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