It won’t ease the pain from last year’s World Series loss, but the Philadelphia Phillies have enacted some small measure of revenge in taking the first two games of their rematch series against the Houston Astros this weekend. Philly will now look for the sweep on Sunday night, with first pitch from Minute Maid Park scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. Lefty Bailey Falter (0-4, 4.50 ERA) will go for the road team while Jose Urquidy (1-2, 5.64) takes the mound for Houston.
The Astros are currently -145 on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Phillies check in as +125 underdogs. The run total is set at 9.
Phillies-Astros picks: Sunday, April 30
Day to day: SP Taijuan Walker (forearm)
Out: RP Andrew Bellatti (triceps), 1B Darick Hall (thumb), 1B Rhys Hoskins (knee), RP Nick Nelson (hamstring), SP Ranger Suarez (elbow), OF Bryce Harper (elbow)
Out: OF Chas McCormick (back), 2B Jose Altuve (thumb), OF Michael Brantley (shoulder)
Bailey Falter vs. Jose Urquidy
Falter has held his own since being thrust into the rotation due to Ranger Suarez’s injury, with a 4.50 ERA that includes four starts of at least five innings and three or fewer earned runs. In other words, he’s kept Philly in just about every game he’s pitched, which is pretty much the most you can expect from an emergency fifth starter. The lefty doesn’t have an overwhelming arsenal, largely working off of a fastball that sits around 90-91 mph and a curveball with the occasional changeup mixed in against righties. He hardly walks anyone and has limited hard contact just enough to let his defense help him out, but it’ll be a tall task against Yordan Alvarez and Co. tonight.
Urquidy looked like he was hitting his stride this year ... and then promptly gave up a combined 10 runs in seven innings over his last two starts against the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. Granted, those are tough matchups, but the stellar command that’s allowed the righty to thrive in the past isn’t there right now — his 8.8-percent walk rate is nearly double his career mark, and that’s not going to work for someone who relies on pitching to contact as much as Urquidy does. The righty has reduced his fastball usage to under 30 percent, relying more on his sweeper, curve and change, and while all of those secondaries are solid the margin for error here is thin.
I’m betting that the Astros’ bats will break out of their slumber at home against Falter, while a Phillies lineup that’s mashed righties all year and scored six runs yesterday should do its part.
Pick: Over 9
Falter is too hard to trust in this spot, even against a struggling Houston lineup. The Phillies’ lights-out bullpen is a scary proposition if this game is close late, but I expect the Astros to jump on top early and avoid the sweep.