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Braves Seek to Swing Series in Rubber Match Against Phillies

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The Braves will stay in first place no matter what happens today, but a victory would create some breathing room

Milwaukee Brewers v Atlanta Braves Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Atlanta’s eight-game winning streak is now a thing of the past, but the Braves still sit atop the NL East by 1½ games over the Phillies. After a ninth-inning bullpen implosion caused the Braves to drop one at the hands of their division rival on Saturday night, the Braves will try to start a new winning streak on Sunday afternoon and create some distance at the top of the division.

Coming into this weekend, we knew this series would give us an update on how these teams stack up in their current forms. One thing we already knew still rings true - if either team is going to make any real noise in the division race or the playoffs that wait beyond, they will both need to bolster their bullpens.

Mike Foltynewicz will lead the charge for the Braves in today’s matinee. He has struggled to find the 2018 form that earned him a ticket to the All-Star Game, and a big reason why has been the home run ball - it has plagued him like no other time in his career (2.74 HR/9). His last outing (the second of two straight against the Pirates) wasn’t sparkling overall, but he did not allow a home run for only the second time this year. With any luck, this is a positive aspect to build on.

All things considered, Folty’s line in 2019 is an unsightly 1-5 with a 6.02 ERA | 6.32 FIP. His last five starts have been better than the four that preceded them, and in addition to working towards limiting his home run, he has also kept walks to a minimum (the last outing notwithstanding, where he gave four free passes). Folty has faced the Phillies more than he has faced any other team in his career, and he pitched well against them, going 6-3 over 12 starts with a 3.18 ERA.

Per Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki, Vince Velasquez will get the start today for the Phillies. This will be his first start since May 6, as he has been working out of the bullpen - he even appeared in Friday night’s game. On the season, he is 2-3 over 16 appearances (6 starts) with a 4.08 ERA | 5.93 FIP. Like Foltynewicz, he is really struggling with the home run ball, allowing 2.27 HR/9. With Velasquez’s arm likely not stretched out to go deep into this game, this could quickly turn into a Johnny Wholestaff game for the Phillies. With the way their ‘pen has been pitching as of late, that could be a welcome development.

If the wind is blowing out today, there is a real capacity for this game to turn into a 14-12 slugfest. Let’s just hope the Braves come out on top.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Sunday, June 16, 1:20 p.m. ET

Location: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA

TV: Fox Sports South

Streaming: MLB.tv

Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network