After jumping out to a somewhat surprising 5-1 start, the red-hot Phillies are set to take on the Braves at Truist Park. This will be the second meeting between these two clubs in the young season, the Phillies being the victors by way of sweep to open the season.
Tale of the Tape
The Braves, who carry a 2-4 record, squeezed out a series victory over the fellow divisional opponent Washington Nationals heading into their rematch series with Philly.
Although they enjoyed a lot more success at the plate against the Nationals than they did in their first bout with Philly, the Braves offense is still very sluggish looking to begin the season.
With one week down, the Braves currently rank in the bottom three in batting average, runs scored, and slugging percentage and the team is dead last in on base percentage. This is a bit uncharacteristic for a lineup that features Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman, but regardless of why they are struggling at the plate, the Phillies must take advantage.
Fortunately, after a strong opening week performance by their pitching staff, the Phillies seemed primed to do just that.
Entering tonight’s ball game, the Phillies carry the fourth-lowest batting average against. Weak contact and timely outs have been the theme of the Phillies pitching- the starters and the bullpen– and their staff is a huge reason they are off to such a good strength.
Against an anemic (at least thus far) Braves offense, look for the Phillies pitching to pounce and try to make it easy for the offense to generate a win.
Speaking of the Phillies’ offense, you can’t ask for much more than what they’ve done. Their .262 team batting average is third-highest in the National League, trailing only the Reds and the defending WS champion Dodgers.
Rhys Hoskins has been tearing the cover off the ball, entering tonight with seven extra-base hits to his name already, including a league-leading six doubles. J.T. Realmuto is also off to a strong start, collecting 6 RBIs en route to a .333 batting average.
Superstar slugger Bryce Harper has yet to get rolling, but that means that the Phillies can really only stand to grow more dangerous. Look for Harper to try to snap out of it a bit and maybe leave the yard once or twice this series.
Zack Wheeler is set to make his second start of the season to open the series against Atlanta. He was sensational in his last outing, also against the Braves, in a 4-0 Phillies win. In that outing, Wheeler could do no wrong, punching out ten Atlanta batters through seven scoreless innings. Hopefully, an encore performance is in store tonight.
On the other side for the Braves, veteran Charlie Morton will look to be a bit more efficient Historically speaking, the Phillies haven’t had much trouble with Morton, as the longtime hurler carries a 6.08 ERA against them through seven career matchups.
In Game 2. Zach Eflin will go toe-to-toe with young Braves starter Ian Anderson. Eflin was brilliant in his first outing, pitching seven strong innings of one-run ball, including eight punchouts, but wound up with a no-decision.
Anderson, the promising righty who is only in his second big-league season, also had a strong start to the year. He has only yielded a single run thus far and will look to stay efficient in his rematch against Philly.
Lastly, the series finale is set to feature a battle of the southpaws as veteran lefties Matt Moore and Drew Smyly square off.
Hitters to Watch
Phillies First Basemen Rhys Hoskins
One player who will certainly attract the attention of the Braves is first baseman Rhys Hoskins. Boasting an absurd .417 batting average through six games and coming off three consecutive multi-hit games, Hoskins is sure to draw out the best in Atlanta.
Phillies’ Third Basemen Alec Bohm
Another infielder to keep watch of is Alec Bohm. The talented third baseman started the season 0-6 but has been heating up recently, recording at least one base knock in four straight ball games. In the team’s last game against the Mets, Bohm sent a ball sailing over the left-field wall for a three-run homer. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come for the young infielder.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire