Most overrated and underrated NL teams, based on Vegas odds

Most overrated and underrated NL teams, based on Vegas odds

Some thoughts on the 2019 win total over-unders released Tuesday by

Phillies ahead of Braves

The Phillies are at 84.5, a game better than the Braves (83.5). The more I look at Atlanta’s roster, the less confident I am in the Braves repeating their success of 2018.

Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. are two of the top five position players in the division, and Josh Donaldson could be a key pickup if he stays healthy. But the Braves’ rotation leaves a lot to be desired. 

Their current rotation is Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint.

Foltynewicz appears to have figured things out, but Newcomb had a 4.58 ERA after the All-Star break, Teheran has alternated good and bad seasons every year since 2012, and Gausman was so much better in 10 starts with the Braves than he was in his 150 previous appearances as an Oriole. Some of that was the move to the NL. Some of it was luck.

There is just a lot of variance in the Braves’ rotation and more of a chance for disappointment in a tough NL East. 

What if the Phillies get a superstar?

The Phils’ over-under would probably jump closer to the 87.5 or 88.5 range with the addition of Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. 

The Phillies won 80 games last season with a true talent level more so in the 75-win range. Even factoring in the luck they experienced in 2018, the additions of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson should improve the Phils by six or seven wins, especially considering the defensive upgrades the two position players provide. 

So, again, if you’re confident the Phillies will land one of the superstars, you should act now.


The Dodgers, to me, are not a 95-win team, nor are they a dozen games better than each of their division rivals. Los Angeles’ current number is 94.5, followed by the Rockies at 82.5, the Padres at 78.5, the Diamondbacks at 77.5 and the Giants at 73.5.

The Dodgers’ lineup, though, doesn’t present the same danger as recent seasons. Here is their projected opening day lineup:

Joc Pederson, LF
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Cody Bellinger, 1B
Max Muncy, 2B
Chris Taylor, CF
Alex Verdugo, RF
Austin Barnes, C

Good? Sure. Great? No. The Dodgers will beat up on their division, but this is not a clearly better team than the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers or Rockies. 

It’s also why I expect the Dodgers to be heard from again with Harper or Machado. Simply winning the NL West isn’t their goal, and the Dodgers are not currently constructed to beat AL contenders like the Astros, Red Sox and Yankees. 


The over bets I like the most belong to the Rockies (82.5) and Brewers (84.5). 

This is the best starting rotation the Rockies have ever had. The 2018 success of groundball specialist Kyle Freeland and the extraordinary German Marquez was not fluky. Both should build on that productivity in 2019. 

Marquez very quietly dominated in the second half, posting a 2.61 ERA with 124 strikeouts and 20 walks in 93 innings. The numbers of an elite pitcher, and even Coors Field couldn’t stand in his way. 

Freeland, a Denver native, is uniquely qualified to conquer the conditions of his home park. He went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 202 innings. If rotation-mate Jon Gray, who probably has the best pure stuff in the group, can ever get on track, look out. 

The Rockies lost DJ LeMahieu but added Daniel Murphy, who has the ability to hit .340 this season if he can stay healthy. 

I like the Rockies to not just hit the over, but to win the division, barring a Dodgers signing of Harper or Machado. 

The Brewers’ total of 84.5 is surprisingly low given their talent level and the expected return of top-of-rotation-arm Jimmy Nelson, who did not pitch in 2018. Their number is this low, I’m assuming, because of the Cardinals’ addition of Paul Goldschmidt, a true difference-maker. But outside of Goldy, the Brewers just have more offense and much more bullpen talent. 

The rotation is Milwaukee’s big question mark, but a team built this way will likely add to the starting staff either this offseason or ahead of the trade deadline. Put Madison Bumgarner or Dallas Keuchel on this Milwaukee roster and the bar would definitely rise. 

As of now, it’s Cardinals 88.5 and Brewers 84.5. Should be vice versa.

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Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Where does one begin after a night like this?

With the offense that loaded the bases twice in the first three innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners?

With an infield that forgot how many outs there were in an almost comically ugly fourth inning?

With the bullpen currently filled with mostly fringe or inexperienced major-league relievers that turned a six-run game into a 13-run game and stood no chance against the Dodgers' potent lineup?

With the $330 million outfielder who has been outplayed by more than a few visiting superstars at Citizens Bank Park this season?

This 16-2 loss, this was the kind of game that left the manager, the players, the fans and the reporters with more questions than answers.

"It's certainly not encouraging," Gabe Kapler said when asked about the embarrassing performance.

The manager didn't do much expanding. He didn't need to. The fact is the 2019 Dodgers are worlds better than the 2019 Phillies. L.A.'s rotation goes five, six, seven deep. Their lineup can beat you with power, with plate selection, with contact or with small ball like they used in the fourth inning, when they perfectly executed a safety squeeze and a double-steal of second and home.

Facing Kershaw, you're not going into the game with huge expectations. The Phillies were +160 underdogs, one of the biggest underdog lines you will see for a baseball team playing at home. But this was still pathetic. Inexcusable. Baffling. Concerning.

Why is it that opposing offenses can come into this park and make it look small? Why is it that opposing hitters can take such advantage of these juiced baseballs but the Phillies cannot? Cody Bellinger had as many home runs in a three-inning span Monday as Harper has in his last 17 home games.

The Phillies have been outscored 34-8 by the Dodgers, the team every other club in the National League knows it probably must get through to make it to the World Series. What is the Phillies' goal at this point? Is it to chase the wild-card? Is it to make it to a one-game playoff, cross their fingers and call it a job well done?

That wasn't the goal in the spring, when this team had 90-plus win aspirations and looked like it might feature five All-Stars.

This is why the game isn't played on paper, they say.

"I think after yesterday's game everybody's real positive and after a game like tonight you feel like you got kicked in the teeth," said Jay Bruce, who stranded six runners. "You get to start over each day and you get to start a game at 0-0 and have an opportunity to win. We have to play better, for sure. But as poorly as we've played, we're still right there in the wild-card hunt and you never know what's going to happen in the division so we just need to play like we can and play more consistent baseball and see what happens. ... A night like tonight is tough but we get to come back tomorrow and do it again."

There weren't many players in the clubhouse when it opened. Harper was sitting right there waiting, like he always does, no matter the game's outcome. He deserves credit for that, even if some of his answers rang hollow.

Zach Eflin, who has allowed 22 runs in his last 20 innings, actually took some positives from his start.

"I really felt like I probably gave up only two hard-ish hit balls that (fourth) inning," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt like I got better today. I thought me and J.T. (Realmuto) did a good job of mixing pitches and really getting my curveball and changeup over. So although the box score doesn't really look too good, I feel like I took a lot of positives from today.

"We're all calm. There's no need to panic. We know how good we're going to be and it's just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks and then it's going to be a fun rest of the year."

They're fine. Everything is fine. The season isn't deteriorating two weeks before the trade deadline.

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see


What a completely humiliating loss for the Phillies.

It wasn't just that they were blown out, 16-2, by the visiting Dodgers. It was the way it unfolded and the way it sounded.

The Dodgers, with so many of their fans chanting and cheering throughout the night, scored six runs in the Phillies' ugliest inning of the season, the top of the fourth Monday. 

They went single, RBI double, groundout, RBI single, walk, RBI single, safety squeeze RBI single, sacrifice, RBI single, double steal of 2nd and home.

The Dodgers' catcher, Austin Barnes, laid down the successful squeeze. Cesar Hernandez was shifted all the way toward the second base bag and had no chance to scamper to first in time to receive the throw from Zach Eflin. A few batters later, it was again the catcher Barnes who stole home.

And that wasn't even the worst look of the inning. When Eflin struck out Alex Verdugo for the third out, the Phillies were so out of it that the entire infield appeared to not know it was the third out. Realmuto trickled the ball back to the pitcher, Eflin and his fielders stood around, and then after a few seconds, all realized in unison the inning was over and walked toward the dugout. 

The boos just rained down.

You can't blame Phillies fans at this point. They've been watching bad baseball for six weeks. An offense that can't consistently pick up the big hit, a rotation that can't get six innings deep nearly enough, a bullpen that can't protect leads.

It all bubbled to the surface Monday in an ugly loss, the kind of loss one would hope leads to a team meeting or a tough conversation or something that shows these coaches and players are taking the mounting losses personally.

And it got even worse

The Dodgers later added four homers, two by Cody Bellinger. Bellinger had as many home runs at CBP Monday as Bryce Harper has in his last 17 home games.

And still, it got worse. In the eighth inning, Yacksel Rios was ejected for hitting Justin Turner after Verdugo's homer, Edgar Garcia couldn't get a third out, the Dodgers scored five more runs and the Phillies were forced to insert Roman Quinn to pitch ... with the bases loaded. Quinn did get the inning-ending flyout before allowing two more runs in the ninth.

The Phillies are 48-46. Tomorrow night is Vince Velasquez against Walker Buehler.

Missed opportunities

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first and third innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners. Jay Bruce was the main culprit, flying out to end the first and striking out on three pitches with one out and the sacks full in the third.

The Phillies reached base twice via error against Kershaw in the third inning. When you're facing a Hall of Fame pitcher, you have to cash in when you get the chance. The Phillies couldn't. You almost knew before the Dodgers even crossed the plate that this would be costly.

Segura dinged?

Jean Segura was limping in the field in the top of the ninth and again after his groundout in the bottom of the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the game that Segura was being examined but had no further update. We'll know more Tuesday.

Up next

The Phillies again miss NL All-Star starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that just means they get the rest of the Dodgers' strong rotation.

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

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