Philadelphia (Hellickson) at Pittsburgh (Williams)
The days of Jeremy Hellickson’s strong start to the season for the Philadelphia Phillies are numbered. Hellickson sports a decent 3.71 ERA but it doesn’t correlate to his xFIP which is nearly two full runs higher at 5.56. His strikeouts per 9 innings has declined sharply from last season going from 7.3 to 3.7 and his swinging strike rate has followed a similar pattern going down from 10.8% last season to 7.4%. He’s also seen an uptick in his hard hit ball pct. which indicates opposing hitters are squaring up his pitches more successfully than a year ago. Hellickson has surrendered 12 runs in his last 13.1 innings of work and has failed to pitch more than 6 innings in four straight starts which is bad news for a Phillies bullpen that is not only bad with a 5.04 collective bullpen ERA but has been taxed with Phillies starting pitchers on a 7-game streak of not getting past six innings in any start. Pittsburgh’s lineup has climbed their way out of a recent funk by scoring 30 runs in their last five games combined and I expect them to do damage tonight. On the flip side, Trevor Williams takes the mound for the Pirates and he doesn’t offer a whole lot of long-term upside. He has allowed 17 runs on 23 hits in 19.2 innings of combined starting and relief work for the Pirates this season and the long ball has burned him issuing 5 home runs during that span. Williams has had trouble finding the strike zone at times as well with nine walks allowed in 19.2 innings. Philadelphia has scored at least four runs in seven of their last nine games and should be able to plate some runs tonight against Williams and the Pirates tonight. The over is 7-2 in Philadelphia’s last nine games and 4-2 in Pittsburgh’s last six games. I expect a high scoring affair in this inner state battle tonight.