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2020 Series Preview: Atlanta Braves (9-5) at Philadelphia Phillies (3-4)

The Phillies are finally playing an opponent in the NL East. It has been 11 days since the Phillies have played a familiar team, most of that was due to that week long hiatus following numerous members of the Miami Marlins organization testing positive for COVID-19. 

J.T. Realmuto went 6-for-11 with two home runs against the Yankees. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

It is also the first time since that Marlins series that the Phillies are back to playing their original schedule. The Phillies enter the weekend 2.5 games out of first place as they welcome the red hot Atlanta Braves into Citizens Bank Park for a four-game series. 

The Phillies are coming off a four-game split with the New York Yankees. J.T. Realmuto swung a hot bat against the Bronx Bombers, going 6-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs in three games. Realmuto also threw out a runner in yesterday’s 5-4 win. It was the Phillies bullpen that showed signs of trouble and concern in the series. Over a span of 10 innings in four games, Phillies relievers gave up 11 runs, 16 hits and two walks. 

Manager Joe Girardi said he is not concerned about the current look of his bullpen.

“I believe in our bullpen. I’ve said all along they haven’t had work,” Girardi said before Thursday’s game. “They haven’t had consistent work. There are some guys I probably won’t use today because they’ve thrown two out of three days and I don’t think they’re ready to go three out of four (days), so some other guys are going to have to step up.” 

Heading into this season, the strength of this Braves team was their pitching. Atlanta put around $55 million into their bullpen this past offseason, most of which was committed to signing LHP Will Smith. Their starting rotation, led by reigning NL Rookie of the Year Mike Soroka, looked to be one of the best in the NL East as well. However, the look of Atlanta’s starting rotation has significantly been altered with Felix Herandez opting out, former Phillie Cole Hamels currently on the injured list, Mike Foltynewicz being designated for assignment and Soroka suffering a season-ending injury this week. 

Their strength currently lies in their lineup and it’s headlined by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman. The 2019 All-Stars combined for 15 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs against the Phillies last year. 

Given the circumstances, this four-game series against the Braves is a big one for the Phillies.

Shibe Vintage Sports Probable Pitchers

  • Game 1: RHP Kyle Wright (ATL) (0-1, 7. 50 ERA and 3.50 FIP) vs. RHP Vince Velasquez (PHI) (0-0, 12.00 ERA and 12.00 FIP)
  • Game 2: TBA vs. RHP Jake Arietta (0-1, 5.40 ERA and 6.60 FIP) 
  • Game 3:  Max Fried (2-0, 2.04 ERA and 2.30 FIP)  vs. TBA 
  • Game 4:  Sean Newcomb (0-1, 6.75 ERA and 5.09 FIP) vs. RHP Aaron Nola (0-1, 3.97 ERA and 2.19 FIP)

Friday night’s start is a big one for Vince Velasquez as he looks to rebound from his first start of the season against the Marlins. Though Velasquez took the no-decision in the start, he gave up a 4-0 lead and showed continuous signs of command trouble. 

Arietta will be making his second start of the season. In his first, the 34-year-old looked fairly sharp through five innings but extra-base hits had hurt the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner. 

“Overall, it got better as the game went on,” Arietta told the collective media following Monday’s loss to the Yankees. “It really was a couple mistakes, a changeup left over the plate to Gardner. I started out on a 3-0 count to LeMahieu to start out the game and worked it back full and threw a sinker that was elevated a little too much. Third run came on a sinker that caught some plate which started in a really good spot but came back to Hicks.” 

Though neither Girardi nor the Phillies have announced who will get the start on Sunday, all signs are pointing towards one of the organization’s top prospects in Spencer Howard making his MLB debut. Last year across four levels of the minor leagues, Howard went 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 15 starts, finishing the season with Double-A Reading.

Pregame Phillies Nuggets

  • Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies and first baseman Matt Adams will miss the four-game series as they were placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday. 
  • In his career, Bryce Harper has hit 32 home runs against the Braves which is the most he has hit against any team. 
  • Among all MLB players (min. 200 PA) over the last calendar year (8/7/19-current), Harper is just one of seven players with an OPS of 1.000 or better 
  • Last year Freddie Freeman hit .348/.482/.530 with eight extra-base hits and 14 RBIs against the Phillies. 

Ticket IQ Programming Information

  • Game 1: Friday at 7:05 on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ and Sportsradio 94 WIP 
  • Game 2: Saturday at 6:05 on NBC Sports Philadelphia, MLB Network and Sportsradio 94 WIP 
  • Game 3: Sunday at 1:05 on  NBC Sports Philadelphia, TBS and Sportsradio 94 WIP 
  • Game 4: Monday at 6:05 on NBC Sports Philadelphia, FS1 and Sportsradio 94 WIP 


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