Headlines

Chasing Glory: Phillies Set Sights on Surpassing Braves in NL East Showdown

As the Phillies gear up to face their long-standing rivals, the Atlanta Braves, for the first time since the season’s opening weekend, anticipation is high.
With the Braves comfortably in second place and aiming for a strong playoff position, the Phillies have a golden opportunity to extend their lead in the National League East.

Atlanta’s Standings:

  • Record: 47–38
  • Position: Second place in the NL East, nine games back

Key Moments from Their Last Matchup:

  • Opening Day Showdown: Zack Wheeler and Spencer Strider’s duel ended in heartbreak for the Phillies due to bullpen woes, reigniting fears of past bullpen struggles.
  • Second Game Woes: Both Max Fried and Aaron Nola stumbled, but Nola’s struggles were worse, resulting in another Braves victory.
  • Third Game Comeback: Clutch hits from Alec Bohm and Trea Turner secured a narrow 5-4 victory for the Phillies.

The Braves’ Current Situation:

  • Despite season-ending injuries to key players Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Spencer Strider, the Braves have managed to stay competitive.
  • Offensive struggles have been apparent, with a significant drop in performance from last season’s high-powered lineup.
  • Pitching Resilience: Contributions from Chris Sale and Reynaldo Lopez have kept the Braves afloat despite offensive inconsistencies.

Division Dynamics:

  • The Phillies, with a 12-10 record since mid-June, have given the Braves a chance to narrow the division gap.
  • The upcoming series presents a crucial opportunity for both teams, with potential long-term implications for the division race.

Fan Perspectives and All-Star Controversies:

  • The Phillies boast three All-Star starters, a point of contention for Mets fans who feel their players were snubbed.
  • The balanced schedule has received mixed reviews, with some fans missing the intensity of frequent division matchups.

As the Phillies and Braves clash once more, the stakes are high. Will the Phillies capitalize on this chance to widen the gap, or will the Braves make a bold statement in their pursuit of the NL East crown?

Phillies vs. Braves series preview

catching up to the second-place club in the National League East

The cherished division rivals, the Atlanta Braves, will host the Phillies for the first time since the first weekend of the season. The Braves are in a good position to make the playoffs and are enjoying their own mini season. However, they have a long way to go if they are to win the National League East this year.

Atlanta Major League

Record: 47–38; ninth games back, second place in the National League East

When they last interacted

Zack Wheeler and Spencer Strider engaged in a pitchers’ duel on Opening Day, but the Phillies lost as a result of their bullpen breaking down after the starters departed the game. Recall how everyone started to fear that 2020 would happen again and that the Phillies’ bullpen wasn’t that good? This ought to act as a gentle reminder that the season’s outcome is rarely determined before Opening Day.

The bullpen of the Philadelphia Phillies isn’t the finest in baseball right now. Why does it always backfire so terribly when they try to elevate us beyond anything?

Speaking of unpredictable early performances, Max Fried and Aaron Nola both had bad beginnings in the series’ second game. Regretfully, Nola was marginally worse, and the Braves prevailed in that game as well. The season opening takes place on Friday. Both players have recovered from that bad start to have excellent seasons overall.

When the bats finally awoke late in game three of the series, the Phillies appeared to be headed for a sweep. The Phillies defeated the Astros 5–4 thanks to clutch hits from All-Stars Alec Bohm and Trea Turner.

 

It has been a long time.

I like how MLB currently has a more balanced schedule. Having the Phillies play every other team in baseball instead of just 19 games against each division opponent is a nice perk. The schedule creators often made matters worse by condensing a large number of such games into a brief amount of time. The Phillies would appear to play the Marlins twelve times in a given month, and no one wants to watch the Marlins that frequently. (Marlins fans are included in that based on attendance figures.)

Everyone claims to enjoy division games and divisions mattering, but my balanced schedule perspective is that, after you play the Mets ten times in two weeks, you really want to see a different club every once in a while.

Nevertheless, it seems strange that more than three months have passed since the Phillies and Braves last faced off. especially since they will play six games in two weeks later in the season. If they wanted to play a lot of division games in September, that’s one thing, but September 1st is the last game between these clubs.

What is the Braves’ situation?

The Braves suffered a devastating setback when pitchers Ronald Acuna, Jr. and Spencer Strider went down with season-ending injuries. In spite of those setbacks, the Braves have maintained a winning record and are presently the top Wild Card in the NL. However, it’s a far cry from 2023, when they dominated opposition pitching and won 104 games thanks to their offence.

Several observers noted that the Braves’ offence in 2023 was a little erratic, with nearly every hitter having a season in the 90th percentile or higher. Matt Olson, for example, is a strong hitter, but hitting 50 home runs a year is probably not possible. Olson’s numbers have declined significantly, as was to be expected, but he is not alone. This season, almost every Braves hitter has seen their numbers decline.

For more than two months now, the Braves have been among baseball’s bottom five offences. wRC+ team of 85 since the end of April. Who has performed worse? Pirates, Marlins, Rockies, and White Sox

Regretfully, even without Strider, the Braves’ pitching rotation has prevented them from losing ground. Fried overcame the season’s rough start, and the Braves’ gamble that Chris Sale would overcome his injury troubles has so far paid off. Reynaldo Lopez, a journeyman reliever with a 1.85 ERA in 15 starts, was inexplicably added to the Braves’ rotation.

It’s important to remember that Lopez allowed two home runs in his most recent outing and walked four batters in each of his previous two starts. The Phillies could be well-positioned to benefit from regression. Watch Cristopher Sanchez’s start on Thursday to get an idea of what that looks like. (Or, in reality, don’t. Let’s put that one behind us and move on.)

I detest this man.

I talked about how the numbers of most Braves hitters have decreased, with Orlando “Attaboy” Arcia possibly seeing the largest drop. The shortstop had an OPS of.582 following a postseason collapse in which Bryce Harper dominated him. He was an All-Star in 2023.

 

Getting the better of them?

On June 11, the Phillies extended their lead in the NL East to ten games. The Phillies have had a mediocre 12-10 record since then. The Braves had a chance to catch up in the division during that uneventful stretch, and they have in fact brought the race closer. They currently trail the Phillies by nine games going into today.

All-Star season: All the feels

Some people seem to find out every year that allowing the public to choose the starting lineup turns the event into a popularity contest. My reply:

Have these folks only recently become aware of things? There have always been baseball fans who have expressed dissatisfaction with the All-Star selection process, claiming that the “most deserving” players aren’t always chosen. In fact, Keith Law has dedicated his whole career to whining about it.

The most vocal critics this season are Mets supporters, who are especially incensed about Trea Turner’s selection over Francisco Lindor and are upset that three Phillies—lucky for them—are in the starting lineup.

Turner has only participated in 48 games, yes. But in those 48 games, he has mostly performed admirably, outscoring Lindor in terms of offensive production.

I would advise the fans of the Mets to vote more vigorously the next time and to pack tissues for when they watch Turner open the All-Star Game.

 

The Smarty’s Most ’90s Thing Ever competition

The second seed It’s time for the final four after The O.J. Trial defeated The Spice Girls and T.G.I.F. in the “triple threat” match!

 

Not a Phillies fan

I was attempting to think of a professional wrestling comparison for the history of U.S.-British ties on Independence Day. I’ll ask for assistance again here as I didn’t receive a response from Twitter when I asked.

Fans of wrestling:

Does the US-Britain relationship have a good analogy?

– Protege, a sidekick to the star wrestler, turns against him and wins a major match to turn the star around – Eventually, they make up to defeat a more powerful adversary together.

The ones that immediately came to mind are Shawn Michaels and Triple H, Rock and Mick Foley, and Triple H and Batista. None of them line up perfectly.

Final reflection

There is a chance for the Phillies to extend their lead and make it more difficult for the Braves to close the gap. However, this is a terrific opportunity for the Braves to close part of that deficit. The more fearful fans will undoubtedly come to the conclusion that a series defeat indicates the Phillies are crumbling and that it will only be a matter of time until they give up the division lead to the Braves, based on what I have read on social media this season.