After a convincing series win over the Cardinals, the Phillies will take on the Braves in the divisional series. Game 1 in Atlanta will be the twentieth time the two teams face each other this season.
While facing a divisional foe is not optimal, the Phillies should be thrilled to avoid the immensely-talented Dodgers team for at least another round.
Tale of the Tape
Additionally, the Phillies didn’t do half bad against the reigning World Series champion Braves. Across 19 contests, the team went 8-11 against the Braves. Furthermore, four of the eleven Phillies’ losses were near misses that were decided by two runs or less.
Going back even further, over the last three seasons, the Braves and Phillies have met 48 times in the regular season. Atlanta posted a 26-22 record during those games, proving just how evenly matched the divisional foes are.
Phillies offense has fared well
What’s most encouraging about the season series against Atlanta was how well the Philly offense performed. In 19 games played against the Braves this season, there were eight games in which the Phillies had 10+ hits.
In those eight games, the Phillies averaged 7.4 runs per game, which would have been the highest mark in the MLB if extrapolated over the entire season. Additionally, the 7.4 runs they averaged during this span was over four runs higher than their season average of just over three runs (3.3) per game.
Keep in mind, the reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper did not participate in six of these contests as he recovered from a fractured left thumb.
Harper hit the lone home run in Saturday’s series-clinching win over the Cardinals. Before the game, Harper reportedly rallied the team together with a message of confidence.
“We’re not losing,” Harper said repeatedly as he went around the clubhouse at Busch Stadium.
During the ballgame, Haper delivered on his promise with a first-pitch home run off Mike Mikolas in the second inning. The deep blast helped the Phillies draw first blood and the team maintained the lead throughout.
“It’s MVP-type stuff,” Rhys Hoskins said of the confidence Harper instilled in the team. “Awesome to see.”
With Harper back in the lineup and playing well, the Phillies have a chance to pounce on a Braves pitching staff they are familiar with.
A quick glimpse at the series
Getting the better of the Braves pitching is no small task, though. This season, the Braves pitching staff boasted the fifth-lowest ERA and recorded the second-most strikeouts in the league.
Still, the Phillies have erupted on this team before and shouldn’t be caught off guard by whatever Atlanta throws at them.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson