Remember when the NFL draft was in town on April 27? That afternoon, the Phils were finishing off the Fish in a rained-shortened two-game series that saw its win streak boost to six and the last time the team won a series. With yesterday’s triumph against the Giants, the Phils snapped that trend by winning the final two games of the series.
The Phils will now hit the road for nine games, starting with its first trip to new Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.
What to expect
Can we expect the Phils to turn it around? They swept the Braves in its only meeting with the club in mid-April, winning all three by three runs or fewer. Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera appeared to have snapped out of their funk by hitting a combined 8-for-16 with two home runs and seven RBI the last two days. The Braves aren’t throwing any Cy Youngs against the Phils, so perhaps this is the kick-start the two were desperately in need of to build upon.
The Phils will miss out on Freddie Freeman, who was placed on the disabled list of May 18 due to a fractured left wrist. He’s expected to miss 10-12 weeks of action. The Braves are still formable offensively with Matt Kemp returning to his MVP stature. He’s hitting, so far a career best .346 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI. Other veteran contributors include Nick Markakis, Brandon Phillips, and Ender Inciarte.
Atlanta has been somewhat of a surprise this season and sit second place in a weak NL East, 10 games behind the Washington Nationals.
Nick Pivetta has been recalled for Lehigh Valley after sending Brock Stassi down to Reading. Pivetta struggled in his four-start cameo in late-April and May. The rookie was unable to pitch past five innings and has walked eight batters in his last two outings. He returned to form in Lehigh Valley by allowing just three earned runs in 13 innings since his demotion. Bartolo Colon has been bad this year, folks. His ERA speaks for itself, but he’s allowed 12.5 hits per nine innings pitched. The Phils laced 11 hits in seven innings in April.
Aaron Nola was sharp in his return from the disabled list when tossing seven innings of one-run ball against the Pirates on May 21. His last two starts were not, as the right-hander has surrendered nine runs in nine innings. Nola has a 2.32 ERA in his five career stars against the Braves. Jaime Garcia is the Braves best pitcher, as he leads the starting staff in ERA. His last start against the Phils came back in April, when he tossed six innings while allowing just two runs.
In terms of control, Jerad Eickhoff turned in his worst start as a big leaguer in his last outing against the Giants by issuing five free passes. Walks has not been an anomaly, as he’s walked at least three batters or more in four of his eleven starts this year, something he did just five times in 2016. Eickhoff is throwing first pitch strikes just 52.4 percent of the time, easily a career worst. He does own Atlanta, however, by boasting a 1.26 ERA in his last five starts against the club. Mike Foltynewicz struck out nine batters in seven innings of one-run ball against the Phils back on April 23. Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph have both taken the Braves’ right-hander yard.
Just one start into his big league career, Ben Lively is already Pete Mackanin‘s favorite pitcher…and he hasn’t even struck out a batter yet. The rookie went seven innings and allowed just one run his big league debut over the weekend against the Giants. The right-hander needed just 98 pitches to do it. “The thing that impressed me the most is he showed no fear,” Mackanin told Marc Narducci of Philly.com. That trait alone will keep you in the majors longer than “stuff” will. Lively won 18 games last season with Reading and Lehigh Valley. Knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey will get the nod for Atlanta, who like Colon, was brought in as a veteran presence to stabilize the rotation. The 42-year-old is pitching to his age, as he allows close to 10 hits per nine and 4.7 walks to per nine.