First place is on the line as Phillies take on Braves

After a short homestand, the Phillies are back on the road. First stop is Atlanta as the Phillies will face the Braves in a weekend series. This series is crucial because whatever team wins the series will walk out with first place in the NL East. The Braves currently hold a one game lead in the division heading into Friday’s game. This game will start a 23 game stretch of division games for the Phillies. 

Probable Pitching Matchups 

Game one: Nick Pivetta (4-1, 4.93 ERA) vs. Max Fried (7-3, 3.75 ERA) 

Game two: Aaron Nola (6-1, 4.58 ERA) vs. Sean Newcomb (1-0, 2.59 ERA)

Game three: TBD vs. Mike Foltynewicz (1-5, 6.02 ERA) 

The Phillies have not decided who is going to take the mound in the series finale after Jerad Eickhoff was removed from the rotation. There have been talks that Vince Velasquez could make a return to the rotation, and there is also a chance that the Phillies could use an opener again.

Cooling Off the Red Hot Braves

This series is going to be tough for the Phillies. Atlanta has been hot as of late, currently riding a seven game winning streak. Although the Phillies have not played well on the road this year, I think that this can be a series that the Phillies can win. Home field advantage isn’t really the case for the Braves as they are only slightly above .500 this year with a record of 19-15. 

Coming in and being a stopper to the Braves’ hot streak is necessary if the Phillies want to walk out with the series win, and they are putting the right pitcher on the mound to do so. Nick Pivetta has found a second wind since his return from a short stint in the minors. He has put up multiple great outings since his return, including a complete game in his last start where he only allowed one run. He has been the hottest pitcher in the rotation right now and will look to keep the momentum going against Atlanta. Aaron Nola will take the hill in game two and look to put on another quality outing. This will be a big opportunity for him to put his name in contention for a second straight All-Star selection. 

Another reason why the Phillies could walk out with a series win is that they will be facing two Braves pitchers who have been struggling as of late. Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz have both given up at least three earned runs in all of their last three starts. Although the Phillies still don’t know who will face Foltynewicz, these are two pitchers from whom the Phillies could steal a win and use their struggles as a chance to get the offense going to kick off this road trip. 

A lot hangs in the balance in this series. The next three games will dictate how the Phillies are going to be looking in the division race going into the All-Star break. They could have a comfortable lead or could dig themselves a deep hole. The Phillies need to come in and win at least one game if they want to stay in striking distance of first place. 

Stats to keep an eye on 
  • The Phillies swept the Braves to open up the season in the teams’ only matchup this season.
  • Ozzie Albies hits much better at home then on the road. On the season he is currently hitting .317 at home and only .233 on the road. 
  • Nick Pivetta has only allowed four earned runs over his last 20 innings of work. 
  • Jay Bruce has continued his hot streak since joining the Phillies roster. Currently he is hitting .346 with 15 RBIs over his last 15 games.