Series Preview: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 11: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch during a game against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on September 11, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

The road to the postseason heads through Philadelphia one final time as the Braves battle the Phillies in a three-game weekend series. This year's playoffs could have a different look to them: for the first time since 2006, the Phillies will not be NL East champions. Having officially been eliminated in the division chase, they will have to settle for the Wild Card if they are to play October baseball. As of today, they are four games out for the second Wild Card spot, but have three other teams to hurdle to get there.

The Braves are in a much better position with a six-game cushion atop the Wild Card standings. They still have an outside chance in the division being just 5.5 games back, but the Braves have had trouble beating the Phillies in September in recent years, especially so at Citizens Bank Park. Over the last three Septembers - not including this year, Atlanta is just 1-14 against the Phillies and twice were swept in Philadelphia. Needless to say, this series will be extremely tough especially with Halladay and Lee pitching.

More of the preview plus pitching matchups after the jump.

How tough have the Phillies been? They've gone 13-5 in September; in 10 of those 13 wins, opponents have been held to fewer than three runs. Cliff Lee has earned four wins in his last five starts and by far has been the best Phillies starter this month, allowing just four total runs in 28.1 innings while issuing just three walks. As for Philly's other two starters in this series, Kendrick and Halladay, not so much, especially Halladay: he's allowed eight runs over his last two starts; Kendrick has given up seven runs in his three September starts.

As for the offense, Carlos Ruiz is back, but has been mostly a nonfactor since his return from the DL. In eight September games, he has just five hits and two RBI and has just one hit in his last 16 at-bats. Jimmy Rollins, though, has been on fire, hitting .338 with seven homers in September. John Mayberry has also been hitting well, hitting .304 this month with just three of 18 games in which he's gone hitless. Chase Utley is hitting .318 in September, but is hitting just .122 against Atlanta this year. Ryan Howard's average has dropped to .228 with just three multi-hit games out of last 24. Not to be forgotten is Juan Pierre, who's hitting .475 in 12 September games.

Finally, this will be the last time Chipper Jones plays in front of all those lovable Phillies fans. Chipper has played 243 games against the Phillies, 119 of them in Philadelphia where he's hit 24 of his 49 home runs. His .332 batting average is the highest against any opponent with a minimum of 100 games played (.333 avg. vs. Milwaukee in 82 games) and his 1.041 OPS is the highest against any NL opponent. His 278 hits against the Phillies are second only to his 281 against the Natspos.

PITCHING PROBABLES

Friday, September 21, 7:05 p.m. ET

Tommy Hanson

#48 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-6

220

R

R

Aug 28, 1986

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Tommy Hanson 12-8 28 28 0 0 0 0 158.0 164 83 76 23 65 146 4.33 1.45

Kyle Kendrick

#38 / Pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies

6-3

210

R

R

Aug 26, 1984

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Kyle Kendrick 9-11 34 22 1 1 0 1 143.2 140 69 63 17 45 105 3.95 1.29

Saturday, September 22, 4:05 p.m. ET

Mike Minor

#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-3

210

R

L

Dec 26, 1987

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Mike Minor 9-10 28 28 0 0 0 0 167.0 146 86 80 25 55 135 4.31 1.20

Roy Halladay

#34 / Pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies

6-6

230

R

R

May 14, 1977

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Roy Halladay 10-7 23 23 0 0 0 0 149.2 144 67 67 16 30 122 4.03 1.16

Sunday, September 23, 1:35 p.m. ET

Tim Hudson

#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-1

175

R

R

Jul 14, 1975

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Tim Hudson 15-6 26 26 1 1 0 0 164.2 161 73 69 11 46 94 3.77 1.26

Cliff Lee

#33 / Pitcher / Philadelphia Phillies

6-3

190

L

L

Aug 30, 1978

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2012 - Cliff Lee 6-7 27 27 0 0 0 0 190.0 187 73 69 22 28 184 3.27 1.13
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