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MLB Betting: Phillies Look To Ride Momentum Through Strong Second Half

Written by Matt Stevens   
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 22:29

Philadelphia Phillies  vs. Atlanta Braves Betting LinesWhen the Philadelphia Phillies brought in Roy Halladay a year ago, everybody knew that they would have one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball betting competitions. When they went out and added Cliff Lee to pitch behind the 2010 NL Cy Young award winner on a staff that already had Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, the MLB betting media was left to debate where this group ranked on the list of most dominant pitching staffs in the history of the game. The 2011 Phillies didn’t disappoint through the first half of the season, registering the best staff ERA, WHIP, and quality starts, and setting the tone for the rest of the league with the best overall record in the majors.

Lee was inconsistent at times but finished the first half strong with one of the most incredible month’s in baseball history when he allowed just a single run through five starts in June. The 32-year old threw 41 innings of shutout ball, and finished with three complete game shutout wins over the Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals, and AL-leading Boston Red Sox.

Even then his numbers couldn’t match Halladay or Hamels, whose 2.45 and 2.32 ERA respectively were both better than Lee’s 2.82 mark, while they both finished with 11 wins compared to Lee’s nine. Factor in that Lee has always played his best ball in the postseason, and this staff looks exceptionally scary not only the rest of the way through the sports betting regular season but as the strongest World Series contender from the NL.

The Atlanta Braves weren’t able to touch the Phillies even despite recording 54 wins, which would have been placed them in first place in four of the other five divisions in baseball. The Braves’ pitching staff finished the first half with the second-best ERA in baseball behind Philadelphia, led by All Star Jair Jurrjens and his 1.87 ERA. Catcher Brian McCann led the offense with a .310 ERA and 15 home runs through the first half, but the rest of the Atlanta order will need to be much better if they are going to keep pace with the Phillies. The NL Wild Card spot seems like a more fitting way avenue for the Braves to get into the MLB postseason.

Out west, the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants have managed to build a decent three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place. Their playoff position can be almost entirely attributed to a strong pitching staff and a lack of depth in the West division, as they have operated with the second-worst record in the NL. While the Giants should be able to clinch a playoff spot due to a lack of elite competition, the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers will have a much tougher time holding on. The St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and defending champion Cincinnati Reds are all within four games of the Brewers for first place, leaving things wide open for the second half. The Reds should make a run past the Pirates with a stronger second half from its pitching staff and one of the best offenses in the majors, but it is unlikely that they will be able to catch either Milwaukee or St. Louis as they battle it out for first place in the NL Central MLB standings.

 
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