Atlanta will be looking for more happy Kimbrel hugs against the Phillies
After taking two of three games from a Marlins team in the middle of a firesale, the Atlanta Braves return home to Turner Field to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in a three game series. The Phillies come into Atlanta riding a 4-game win streak, having just swept the Brewers (Oddly, Philly won each game in that series 7-6). The Phils are winners of 8 of their last 11 as well, so it will be important that Atlanta does not look past this series.
Since the Braves last played (and swept) the Phillies, Roy Halladay has returned from injury. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are beginning to return to form as well, which makes the Phillies team that Atlanta sees today much more dangerous than the one we saw a few weeks ago.
Over the last two weeks, Howard has put up a team-leading .418 wOBA and 166 wRC+. His terrible defense has mitigated his WAR totals, but keeping his bat cooled off will be paramount for the Braves this series. His partner on the right side of the infield hasn't been bad either, as Utley has posted a .387 wOBA and 144 wRC+, both good for second on the team. Luckily, the Braves have several stellar left-handed relief options to face Philly's lefty mashers late in games.
Carlos Ruiz is still hitting well for the Phils and Shane Victorino has stepped up his game in recent weeks as well. Over the last two weeks, the two actually lead the Phillies in WAR, with Ruiz posting a 0.6 WAR and Victorino a 0.5. Ruiz, who is in the midst of a career year, is currently posting an OPS of .983, good for the 8th best mark in all of baseball.
A look at pitching matchups after the jump
Friday, July 27, 7:35 PM EST
Saturday, July 28, 7:10 PM EST
Sunday, July 29, 1:35 PM EST