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Boston and Philadelphia, two storied sports towns and a pair of the country’s biggest markets, are both in danger of being on the outside looking in when the baseball postseason commences in just a few weeks.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies sat three games behind the second National League Wild Card spot, a very manageable deficit. The problem is they also have to leapfrog over three other clubs to get there in a relative short time span.

The outlook of the Red Sox looks far grimmer, as the defending world champions are eight games back with only 18 games remaining. Suffice to say, their quest for a proper title defense beyond September isn’t looking too promising.

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Despite both sides’ current misfortunes, their meeting this weekend at Citizens Bank Park — albeit in a two-game series — stands as one of the highlights of the upcoming weekend of baseball action. It’s a must-win situation, after all.

But how will that translate in betting the over/unders? The Red Sox, unsurprisingly, have been one of the best over teams this year, going 79-61-4 for such bets. Meanwhile, despite the Phils boasting a pretty potent offense, they’ve seen overs go 66-73-4 in their games. Let’s examine the pair of matchups.

Rick Porcello vs. Aaron Nola (Saturday): What an up-and-down season it has been for Nola. The Philadelphia staff ace carried a very uncharacteristic near-5.00 ERA into mid-June before a mostly dominant summer that chopped his ERA all the way down to a much more normal 3.45 entering September. In his two starts this month, though, Nola was touched up for 10 runs.

If there’s hope for a bounce-back from the right-hander, it can be generated from his previous assignment opposite the Sox a few weeks ago. In that start, Nola crafted seven innings of two-run ball to go with seven strikeouts.

Porcello also had a positive first encounter with this opponent when the two clubs first met in late-August at Fenway Park. The former AL Cy Young Award winner limited the Phillies to three runs across five fine innings, but like Nola, he, too, has endured his struggles as of late. In each of his last two outings, Porcello surrendered six runs apiece. OVER

Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Vince Velasquez (Sunday): Rodriguez has quietly been one of the league’s biggest breakouts in 2019 as far as pitchers go, picking up the slack admirably while the majority of Boston’s pitching rotation has struggled. He’s 17-6 to go with a 3.73 ERA, after all.

The fifth-year southpaw did not face the Phillies the first time around but he’s continued to be steady no matter the lineup in front of him. Rodriguez has pitched the Red Sox into the seventh inning or deeper in five of his last six assignments, and in his last two turns, he totaled 17 strikeouts, his most K’s in back-to-back starts this season.

There’s no big breakout yet for Velasquez but that doesn’t mean the 27-year-old hasn’t been knocking on the door of such success. His continued healthy strikeout rate (9.81 K/9) and the fact that he’s logging the second-fewest walks (3.56 BB/9) during his tenure in Philadelphia indicates Velasquez is close. 

Having allowed three runs or fewer in seven of his last nine starts, enlist him to keep it up. UNDER

Last week: 3-1

Season: 41-33

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