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MLB Computer Picks for July 22: Phillies Phor Phun (and Profit)

Kyle Schwarber Johan Rojas Philadelphia Phillies
Kyle Schwarber 12 of the Philadelphia Phillies hugs Johan Rojas 18 of the Philadelphia Phillies after hitting a three run home run against the San Diego Padres Rich SchultzGetty ImagesAFP

Anything can happen in Major League Baseball – even the Philadelphia Phillies winning the pennant. The 2022 Phillies weren’t all that great on paper, and their performance level in 2023 has been league-average at best; then again, Bryce Harper has been limited to designated hitter duties since undergoing Tommy John surgery last November.

Until now, that is. Harper was penciled in to play first base for the Phillies in Friday night’s series opener against the Cleveland Guardians; that game has yet to begin as we go to press, but this news, combined with the MLB projections at OddsTrader, makes Saturday’s rematch the No. 1 choice for our latest computer-approved baseball picks.

Picks Summary

  • Phillies ML (-113) at Unibet
  • Giants-Nationals Over 8.5 (-115) at Bet365
  • Astros-Athletics Over 7.5 (-115) at BetRivers

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Cleveland Guardians

Saturday, July 22, 2023 – 07:10 PM EDT at Progressive Field


Harper wasn’t even supposed to debut for the Phillies (52-44, minus-0.64 units) until right about this point in the 2023 campaign, so they must have been delighted when the two-time MVP made his return on May 2. Harper started hot, cooled off a bit in June, and is now third among their regular batters with a .803 OPS.

The Phillies need more from Harper if they want to make another postseason run. He’s never started at first base at any professional level, and Harper hasn’t won any Gold Gloves out in right field, so there’s definitely an element of risk to this move.

The reward comes from taking Kyle Schwarber (.755 OPS) out of left field and putting him in the DH slot. Schwarber is one of the worst outfielders in baseball, maybe the worst, judging by his minus-15.4 Defensive rating at FanGraphs.

Did the computers at OddsTrader take this into account when they projected Philadelphia to edge Cleveland 3.5 runs to 3.4? Maybe not. This matchup is more of a slight lean towards the Phillies as-is, but consider upsizing your bets if you believe in Harper’s as-yet-unproven ability to hold down first base.

It might already not be quite as close a matchup as projected. Tanner Bibee (3.32 ERA, 4.35 xFIP) is pitching for the Guardians, a promising rookie who has been effective for Cleveland thus far, but not as dominant as his ERA would indicate – and the Guardians are only 7-7 in his 14 starts for a loss of 1.41 units.

It’ll be Zack Wheeler (4.04 ERA, 3.48 xFIP) doing the honors for Philadelphia, and bringing the value with his superior expected Fielding Independent Pitching. The Phillies are 13-6 with Wheeler on the mound for 2.92 units in earnings; maybe this will be the start of some beautiful baseball for the reigning NL champs.

MLB Pick: Phillies ML (-113) at Unibet


San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals

Saturday, July 22, 2023 – 07:05 PM EDT at Nationals Park


Harper’s former team could use his services right about now. But they might be missing fallen ace Stephen Strasburg even more; the Nationals (Over 47-45-4) dropped four of their first six games after the All-Star break, sending each one Over the posted total while allowing at least five runs. The OT computers say it will happen again Saturday, with the Giants (Under 51-43-3) prevailing 5.9 runs to 3.5.

Josiah Gray (3.59 ERA, 4.82 xFIP, Under 10-9) is Washington’s new No. 1 hurler, and another strong candidate for negative regression after racking up four Overs in his last six starts. However, Logan Webb (3.11 ERA, 2.90 xFIP, Under 14-6) is the last guy we want to see on the hill for San Francisco, so don’t go betting the farm on this one.

MLB Pick: Over 8.5 (-115) at Bet365


Houston Astros vs. Oakland Athletics

Saturday, July 22, 2023 – 09:07 PM EDT at Oakland Coliseum


It’s the Oakland A’s (Over 51-42-5), so of course the OT computers are predicting another Over, this time with the Astros (Under 48-47-2) coming out on top 5.1 runs to 3.3. We’ve been recommending this bet for most of the 2023 campaign.

There’s a problem, though: Paul Blackburn (5.48 ERA, 4.30 xFIP, Under 4-3-1) is starting for Oakland this Saturday. Blackburn might be the best this beleaguered pitching staff has to offer, and certainly better than that inflated ERA, which is buoyed by a massive .374 BABIP against.

Then again, it might be a bit easier than advertised for Oakland to score off Cristian Javier (4.39 ERA, 4.90 xFIP, Over 14-4). His performance level has regressed significantly from last year, especially when compared to Javier’s no-hit heroics against the Phillies in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series. Bet accordingly – the computers have spoken.

MLB Pick: Over 7.5 (-115) at BetRivers


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