The Daily Sweat: The Phillies continue to test their mettle vs. MLB-leading Braves

Are the Philadelphia Phillies being overlooked in the National League?

The Phillies snuck into the postseason as the final wild-card team last year and ended up making a thrilling run to the World Series, where they ultimately fell in six games to the Houston Astros.

Compared to this time last year, the Phillies are in a much more comfortable position in the NL wild-card race, but they have been overshadowed by the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers, understandably. The Braves have the best record in baseball and a 15-game advantage over the Phillies in the NL East, and the Dodgers are cruising toward their 10th NL West title in the past 11 years.

But the Phillies have an improved roster compared to last year’s team, with the addition of Trea Turner and upgrades in the bullpen and starting rotation. Could they be primed to make another deep postseason run? The Phillies are currently +1400 to win the World Series at BetMGM and +700 to win the NL pennant. By comparison, the Braves are the betting favorites (+275 to win the World Series, +110 to win the NL), and the Dodgers aren’t far behind (+500 to win the World Series, +220 to win the NL).

For the Phillies to do damage in the postseason, they will likely have to get through the Braves in the NLDS — just like they did last year. The Phillies are 5-9 vs. the Braves this year, but one of those wins came Monday, when the teams split a doubleheader in Philadelphia. It was a needed win for the Phillies, who had dropped three of their previous four and saw their wild-card lead shrink a bit.

The Phillies and Braves continue their four-game series Tuesday with two stars on the mound: Zack Wheeler for the Phillies and Max Fried for the Braves. The Braves are -125 road favorites at BetMGM, while the Phillies are listed at +105.

The Philadelphia Phillies' Craig Kimbrel, left, and Trea Turner celebrate after the Phillies won the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves on Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Philadelphia Phillies' Craig Kimbrel, left, and Trea Turner celebrate after the Phillies won the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves on Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

What else is going on in MLB?

It’s a busy day in baseball, as there are multiple doubleheaders on the schedule — including Yankees vs. Red Sox — thanks to Monday rainouts.

The Texas Rangers have had a miserable second half but can still make their way into the postseason — as the AL West champions or via the wild card. The Rangers are two games behind the Astros in the division standings and a half-game up on the Mariners in both the division and wild-card standings.

The Rangers are in the midst of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays, who are a half-game ahead of them in the wild-card race. The Rangers took the first game of the series 10-4 on Monday and are -115 road favorites for Tuesday’s matchup. The Blue Jays are -105.

Other games to keep an eye on include the Tampa Bay Rays (+115) on the road vs. the Minnesota Twins (-140) and the Milwaukee Brewers (-165) hosting the Miami Marlins (+140).

The Rays are nine games up for the top AL wild-card spot but are trying to close ground on the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The O’s have a three-game edge in the standings. The Brewers are three games up on the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, while the Marlins are currently 1.5 games back of the final NL wild-card spot.

What’s the best bet?

I’ll take the Arizona Diamondbacks at -110 on the road vs. the New York Mets.

The D-backs have won six of their past eight, and I’m a bit surprised they’re not at least a slight favorite in this one. I’ll welcome any opportunity to fade the Mets, and Arizona needs to keep stacking wins to make its way into the postseason.