Phillies’ baseball seems to be fun again, doesn’t it?
The Phillies kicked off their season with a fun walk-off win Thursday afternoon. Aaron Nola shined until his last pitch, which was a costly mistake to Pablo Sandoval. The bullpen kept the scoresheet clean though, leading to Jean Segura’s game-winning base hit down the line.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. Zack Wheeler showed his ability to be the Phillies’ second ace, tossing ten strikeouts in seven scoreless, one-hit innings. Oh, let’s not forget to mention that he picked up two hits and two RBI on his own, as well. Nonetheless, Philadelphia’s bullpen stayed flawless in the 4-0 shutout win.
Up next, the Phillies put Zach Eflin on the mound as they look for the series sweep over the Atlanta Braves. The first pitch is slated for 1:05 in Philadelphia, with coverage beginning at 12:30 on NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Phillies are +110 Moneyline underdogs with the over/under set at eight runs.
For the most part, Zach Eflin has had a solid career against the Braves. His only rough year was 2019, where he posted a putrid 1-3 record, accumulating a 6.61 ERA. However, in the other three years, the right-hander has owned the Braves for the most part. Excluding 2019, Eflin showcases a flawless 4-0 record with a 2.05 ERA. Again, excluding 2019, he’s picked up 26 strikeouts in these 35.1 innings pitched.
Ian Anderson has never pitched against Philadelphia in his young career. However, he had a really solid rookie season in 2020. Anderson finished seventh in Rookie of the Year voting but was a key contributor to the Braves rotation. During his rookie campaign, he won three of his six starts. In these games, he maintained a fantastic 1.95 ERA and a stellar 41 strikeouts in his 32.1 innings pitched. Anderson only allowed a single home run in these games as well, keeping opposing batters to a .172 batting average.
For what it’s worth, Anderson did also get rocked by the Red Sox in his final Spring Training start. His final line for the day was 2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, and 3 K.
Storyline to Watch:
It’s easy to sit here and say that the Phillies bats are the main focus of every game. However, this is the first “back-to-back” of the Phillies’ season. Archie Bradley and Hector Neris each have pitched in the first two games, so it’s likely that each of these guys is unavailable for the Easter day showdown.
Assuming that Eflin does not go nine innings, we’re likely going to see some new names make an appearance. Jose Alvarado and Connor Brogdon could be top options, but depending on the flow of the game, manager Joe Girardi could get some other guys some work. The likings of Sam Coonrod, David Hale, Brandon Kintzler, and even Vince Velasquez have yet to make an appearance and could show face Sunday afternoon.
These depth guys will be the key to the Phillies’ success in the long run. Keep an eye on how they perform if their numbers are called.
Photo Credit: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire