Last night, the Phillies opened up their first road series of 2021. We saw some of the worst play we’ve seen from them so far in the young season. Their bats were cold. Along with this, Zack Wheeler and company couldn’t get any help from the umpire on their strike zones or from their infielders’ defense. As a result, the Phillies dropped their second game of the season in a bad loss to the Braves.
Up next, they get back at it tonight in a chance to redeem themselves 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. As of now, Philadelphia is +118 money line underdogs with the over/under set at eight runs.
For the most part, prior to 2021, 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 for the Phillies.
In his first start of 2021, Eflin also got the nod against Ian Anderson about a week ago. During this, he absolutely dominated. His only blemish came from a solo shot he allowed to Travis d’Arnaud in the top of the seventh. However, prior to that, he was absolutely dealing. Eflin went seven innings of one-run ball, only allowing four hits while striking out eight. He’ll look to sustain this success against a nearly identical Braves lineup tonight.
Before last week, Ian Anderson had 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. This trend did not continue into his first start last Sunday in Philadelphia.
In his first start of 2021, Anderson matched Eflin’s four hits allowed, one run boxscore. However, the second-year right-hander only lasted five innings. The Braves’ bullpen would end up allowing a run in the eighth inning after an Alec Bohm RBI single. Anderson will look to keep toe-to-toe with Eflin for the second time this season already.
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Braves’ Shortstop Dansby Swanson
For his career, Swanson has had Zach Eflin’s number. Against the Phillies, Swanson has gotten a knock in about every four at-bats. In 17 at-bats against Eflin specifically, the right-handed batter has accumulated seven total hits (.412 batting average). Among those knocks, he’s picked up four doubles and a home run. He doesn’t just hit Eflin, he gets some barrels on him as well. If he has a chance to kick start a hot streak, tonight would be a great opportunity for the veteran shortstop.
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Photo Credit: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire