Phillies Kick Off Their Weekend at Atlanta With Wheeler Back on the Mound

Philadelphia Phillies Zack Wheeler
TAMPA, FL – MARCH 07: Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) delivers a pitch during the MLB Spring Training game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees on March 7, 2021 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies got back on the winning track Wednesday afternoon. After dropping their first (and only!) game of the season to the New York Mets on Tuesday night, the Phillies’ bats came alive on a beautiful afternoon. Despite Aaron Nola struggling a bit to start the game, he only let up one run en route to an 8-2 victory. Rhys Hoskins continued his hot hitting streak, as Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto added three-run homers of their own.

The Phillies got a well-deserved day off Thursday, and get back at it tonight against the Atlanta Braves once again. The first pitch is slated for 7:20 PM with coverage beginning at 6:30 on NBC Sports Philadelphia. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia as well.

Probable Pitchers


Zack Wheeler

Prior to this season, Wheeler has done well in his career against the Braves.Prior to signing with the Phillies, the right-hander started off his career strong against Atlanta. In 2013 and 2014, his ERA against Atlanta was under three, with 47 strikeouts in eight games. However, after missing two years with elbow injuries, Wheeler slowed down in general, and especially against the division rival. After returning to the Mets’ rotation in 2018 and 2019, he put up an inflated 4.26 and 6.26 ERA in those seasons, respectfully.

Following those seasons, Wheeler signed with the Phillies. Last season, he seemed to have returned to old form against Atlanta, having a 2.13 ERA in two starts during the shortened season. In those two games, he struck out 11 batters while only walking one in 12.2 total innings.

Last week, the 30-year-old continued this trend and absolutely dominated. Wheeler flashed his potential to be the Phillies’ bonafide 1A option behind Nola. In his first start of the season, also against Atlanta, went seven scoreless innings. In these frames, he struck out 10 while only allowing one hit. On top of this, let’s not forget to mention that his bat earned him two RBI on two hits. The Phillies will need Wheeler to maintain this success if they want to kick off this series the right way.


Charlie Morton

A familiar face will return to Philadelphia, as the newest member of the Braves pitching staff takes the mound. Charlie Morton, who pitched four games for Philadelphia in 2016, will start for Atlanta in game two. Morton has had a solid MLB career, however, not much success against the Phillies.

Prior to 2021, he’s started seven total games against Philadelphia. Within those games, the Phillies’ bats have been active, getting Morton’s ERA against them to 6.17. In those games, he’s only lasted an average of five innings (35 innings pitched in seven starts). Since the Phillies’ bats tend to get opposing pitchers out of games early, this is good news for Philadelphia.

Last week, this stretch of bad luck continued. Morton allowed three runs on six hits in five innings pitched. This handed him his first loss of the young season despite his career ERA against Philadelphia lowering to 6.08. Morton looks to get back on track and take momentum early for the Braves in game one of this series.

Player to Watch:

Phillies’ RF Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper has not had the most optimal start to his 2021 season. He does lead the league in walks with six, but that’s pretty much the only way he’s reaching base at the moment. Prior to Wednesday afternoon’s win over the Mets, Harper was batting a measly 3-for-15. However, in the win the other day, the 28-year-old went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. This increased his average to .268 on the season.

Harper seems to be figuring things out, and has a great chance to carry this momentum into some Friday night baseball. For his career, the lefty batter has seven hits in 12 at bats against Charlie Morton. Among those seven hits, he has a triple, homer, six RBI, and three walks. He’s in a prime position to barrel some balls against Morton and be a nice 1-2-3-4 punch with Hoskins, Realmuto, and Bohm surrounding him in the lineup.

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire