After splitting the first two contests of the series against the reigning World Series champion Braves in Atlanta, the Phillies return home for Game 3.
In the first playoff home game since 2011, the energy at Citizens Bank Park will be electric. With a sea of red-rocking Philly faithful rallying around the team, the Phillies look to ride the momentum of the home crowd to victory.
Knocking the Braves off won’t be an easy task, though, even at home. For a better understanding, let’s break down today’s pivotal Game 3 matchup.
Phillies Home Field Advantage?
This season, the Phillies went 40-41 on the road while going 47-34 at home, making their Game 1 victory in Atlanta all the more important. In ten matchups against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, each team won five games.
For what it’s worth, Braves manager Brian Snitker doesn’t expect the CBP atmosphere to be overly hostile. Here is his full quote from earlier this week.
“I’ve been in Philly when it’s crazy. When I was a third base coach, every game we played there was nuts,” said Snitker.
“These guys are used to it. It’s going to be, I guess, the so-called hostile environment, obviously. But they’re used to it. The last two nights, the last — this whole year has been nuts here. It’s been like playoff baseball pretty much the entire year here.”
“And I don’t think it’s anything that they haven’t been exposed to and probably they’ll feed off it like they feed off our fans here in Atlanta.”
This quote feels a bit like writing a check that one cannot cash, but we will see how it plays out in Philly.
Again, it won’t be easy, but the Phillies have to figure out a way to win their lone home playoff game this series.
Game 3’s starting pitcher has not yet been chosen by the Braves. Either veteran righty Charlie Morton or rookie fireballer Spencer Strider, according to manager Brian Snitker, would start. Despite Strider’s oblique injury, Snitker claimed he is ready to play.
Morton, who turns 39 next month, regressed mightily this year. With a 4.34 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season, Morton was an easy target for opposing batters. Additionally, the veteran pitcher got crushed on the road, sporting a 5.72 ERA in road games.
He had a 5.47 ERA in five starts versus the Phillies while posting a 7.04 ERA in his three games in Philly.
For the Phillies, it will be Aaron Nola on the hill.
Nola was lights out in his last appearance, tossing six shutout innings to close out the Cardinals in the Wild Card series.
This season, Aaron Nola had the highest fWAR (6.3) among all pitchers. He finished the year with 235 strikeouts and just 29 walks, the most strikeouts in a season with less than 30 walks in MLB history. Nola joined Cy Young (1904), Kevin Gausman (2022), and former Phillies ace Cliff Lee (2012) as the only pitchers to record 200+ strikeouts and less than 30 walks in the same season.
The Braves saw Nola five times this year. Nola went 3-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in those games. In his most recent outing, he worked six scoreless frames while striking out eight.
Regardless of who the Braves trot out as their Game 3 starter, the Phillies should have the advantage.
The offense will need to come alive
I recently wrote about the Phillies’ offense should be the engine behind overcoming the Braves and that remains true for today’s matchup.
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.
Unfortunately, the last game was not as fruitful for the Phillies as they went on to get shutout. If the Phillies want to dethrone the champs, they will need their offense to inject some life into them once again.
Whether it is against a shaky veteran in Morton or a rookie hurler in Strider, expect the Phillies’ offense to pounce at Citizens Bank Park.
How to Watch
All National League playoff games during the 2022 MLB postseason games will air on FOX and Fox Sports 1.
You can stream the NLDS live online with FOX and FOXSports.com, or through the FOX Sports app. You can also stream the MLB postseason live on FuboTV (free trial).
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip