The Philadelphia Phillies are in first place in the National League East. Whilst not true at the moment, it was the case for a couple hours on Wednesday after the Phils had finished off another series win against the Marlins. The team has now won their last four series and have only lost 4 of their 13 series to begin the year.
“Begin the year” is relative though, as we are now a quarter way through the 2016 campaign. The team could easily be sitting in first place at the end of the weekend if they can take care of business against the Atlanta Braves, who sport the worst winning percentage (.250) in the NL.
Friday – v. Braves, Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 PM
Starting Pitchers: Aaron Nola (3-2, 2.89 ERA) v. Matt Wisler (1-3, 3.14 ERA)
The Braves come to town with a change at the helm after firing skipper Fredi Gonzalez this week. A new manager has yet to be named, but the Braves front office is hoping someone can do better than Gonzalez’s 9-28 start to the year. The Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound as he tries to secure his fourth win of the season and further add to the Braves misery this week. In three career starts against the Braves, the righty Nola has a 2-0 record and a 1.42 ERA. Nola has a 5.68 ERA in three home starts this season. Atlanta will counter with Matt Wisler. Wisler most recently held the Kansas City Royals to two runs over 7.1 innings of work in a no decision. Immediately preceding that start, Wisler faced the Phillies in Atlanta, allowing three runs and taking the loss. Look for lefty batting Ryan Howard, and his MLB-worst .168 average, to start game one against the right-handed Wisler.
Saturday – v. Braves, Citizens Bank Park, 7:05 PM
Adam Morgan (1-1, 6.41 ERA) v. Williams Perez (1-1, 4.78 ERA)
Adam Morgan will try to correct course after being shelled by the Reds for seven runs in his last outing. Morgan has a 1-3 record with a 3.24 ERA in four career starts against the Braves. He will be opposed by Williams Perez, who held the Phillies to one run over 8 innings two weeks ago. The Phillies were held to four hits in that loss. A more aggressive attitude at the plate could help power this offense against Perez, who only allowed two of the four hits.
This weekend could be tricky for Pete Mackanin as he juggles the lineup, as he is tasked with back to back afternoon start times. Carlos Ruiz will probably see a start behind the plate in at least one game. Additionally, it would not be a surprise to see more lineups featuring a suddenly streaking Tyler Goedeel.
Sunday – – v. Braves, Citizens Bank Park, 1:35 PM
Jerad Eickhoff (1-6, 4.44 ERA) v. Aaron Blair (0-3, 7.59 ERA)
Eickhoff and the Phillies will try to close out their homestand with a statement before heading on the road to face the Tigers and the Cubs. The 25-year-old leads the NL in losses, but sports a 2.77 ERA in four home starts this season. Blair, who was a 1st round pick of Arizona in 2013, faced the Phils on May 12th, allowing four runs (three earned) in 3 2/3 innings.
Sunday has typically been reserved for giving playing time to the utility guys, so look for Mackanin to continue this trend with guys like Emmanuel Burriss and David Lough collecting starts.