The Phillies have caught a break. That’s a sentence that hasn’t held true too often this season. What has been said often and arguably has always been true since March is this: the upcoming series against the Braves will be the most important of the season. Over the next three days, the Phillies will have the chance prove to both the rest of the National League and their fanbase that they are still well within reach of a first division crown since 2011. The team can finish this series as far back as 8.5 out of first or could be as close as 2.5 games within overtaking the Braves for the top spot.
The odds of the Phillies being closer to the top spot then they were when they started this series come Sunday are much greater thanks to the Braves no longer being the hottest team in baseball. Like the Phillies, the Braves were gifted a week where they had two-days off and a two-game series against a bottom-feeder from the American League Central. The Phillies took care of business, sweeping the Detroit Tigers in a rather ugly fashion while the Braves fell flat against the Kansas City Royals, getting shutout in the second and coming up short in the late innings at the plate in the first. The Braves have lost six of their last eight while the Phillies have only lost three in that same stretch.
It’s sure to be the season’s most interesting series and the fans that’ll pack Citizens Bank Park are sure to be in for a treat, especially if the Phillies deliver some clutch hits like they did the last time the Braves came to town:
Here’s everything you need to know for tonight’s Christmas in July matchup…
- Scott Kingery, center field
- Jean Segura, short stop
- Bryce Harper, right field
- Rhys Hoskins, first base
- J.T. Realmuto, catcher
- Cesar Hernandez, second base
- Maikel Franco, third base
- Adam Haseley, left field
- Jake Arrieta, pitcher
- Ronald Acuna Jr. left field
- Ozzie Albies, second base
- Freddie Freeman, first base
- Josh Donaldson, third base
- Nick Markakis, right field
- Brian McCann, catcher
- Johan Camargo, short stop
- Ender Inciarte, center field
- Mike Soroka, pitcher
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Matchup
- Jake Arrieta (4.40 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 4.52 xFIP) vs. Mike Soroka (2.46 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 3.66 xFIP)
- Arrieta’s only start against the Braves this season came on Sunday Night Baseball back in March at Citizens Bank Park. He gave up three hits and one earned run but surrendered six walks over as many innings of work.
- Soroka’s first and only career start against the Phillies was earlier this month on the Fourth of July in Atlanta. He gave up four runs in a shaky first inning, but quickly regrouped and earned a no-decision.
Pregame Phillies Nuggets
Alex Anthopoulos, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Braves, sat down with Chip Caray and Jeff Francoeur in the broadcast booth during Wednesday’s Braves, Royals game. When asked about the needs the team has going into the deadline, he had this to say:
It does change almost day-to-day. It does feel that way and that’s just being completly candid. You [the team] had a game last night, you don’t score as often as you like and you start thinking ‘wow should we get a bat.’ You have a good day from the bullpen, you feel better…It’s pretty fluid. That being said, you’re always lining up price. Ideally, you get a front-line starter, a middle-of-the-order bat, a late-inning pen guy, but that’s not going to happen. So, what can you get that’s the most impactful… [and] that’s tough right now because the parity in the NL is unbelievable…[and] so few teams are willing to sell… It’s been incredibly slow to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised that you start seeing some movement the last three days or so.
- Bryce Harper’s numbers against the current Braves pitching staff are incredible. He has 14 HRs, 44 RBIs, 34 BB along with a slash line of .327/.500/.782 in 101 career at-bats. Harper’s also been red-hot as of late. Since July 15th, he has seven extra-base hits, including his first walk-off hit in a Phillies uniform and has been hitting at .313 and has a wOBA of .403, which is excellent.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. was recently named 2019’s Most Valuable Trade Asset by Fangraphs after being ranked 17th the previous season. His status as baseball’s best young player as well as his team-friendly deal that has him under team control until 2028 (his age-30 season) at a maximum AAV of 17 million-a-year are cited as the main reasons he was placed above both Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels and Fernando Tatis Jr of the San Diego Padres. Two Phillies cracked the top 50, with Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins coming in at #31 and #35 respectively.
Ticket IQ Programming Information
- 7:05 at Citizens Bank Park
- NBC 10
- Sportsradio 94 WIP; WTTM 1680 (Spanish)