Fresh off of two straight off days (one because of a rainout), the Atlanta Braves will continue their homestand with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta split four games in Philadelphia earlier this month and are 14-11 on the season. They currently hold a 1.5 game lead in the NL East standings over second-place Miami. Atlanta split a rain-shortened series against the Washington Nationals earlier this week and have gone 5-5 over their last 10 games. The Braves are 8-3 at Truist Park and are the only NL East team with a winning record at their home stadium. (They’re also the only team with a winning record in the division; the other four teams are a combined six games under .500.)
Atlanta is currently dealing with injuries to Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, who are both out due to wrist injuries. The Braves had hoped to get Acuña back for Friday’s opener but he and Albies both were still experiencing some soreness earlier in the week. Nick Markakis was placed on the COVID list prior to Wednesday’s game after he came in contact with someone who had tested positive. Atlanta replaced Markakis by promoting top prospect Cristian Pache, who will likely make his Major League debut in Friday’s opener.
The Phillies come into the series with a 9-12 record and have lost three straight games after they were swept in a doubleheader against the Blue Jays on Thursday. Philadelphia promoted third base prospect Alec Bohm last week and he adds another dangerous bat to their lineup. The Phillies haven’t had any issues scoring runs and their starting rotation is eighth in the majors in fWAR. However, their bullpen has been dismal, posting a league-worst 8.11 ERA (5.39 FIP). Look for the Braves to try and make their starting staff work and get into the bullpen as quickly as they can.
The first game of the series will feature a marquee pitching matchup between Aaron Nola and Max Fried. Atlanta will get their first look at Zack Wheeler in a Phillies uniform on Saturday. Robbie Erlin will make his second start of the season for the Braves opposing Wheeler. Sunday’s game will be featured on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and will see a matchup of Zach Eflin and Josh Tomlin.
Atlanta Braves (14-11 / 8-3 Home / 6-8 Away)
Hitters: 2.0 fWAR (20th), 104 wRC+ (12th), 26.7 K% (28th), 8.7 BB% (18th)
Pitchers: 2.2 fWAR (18th), 99 FIP- (18th), 22.3 K% (19th), 10.5 BB% (23rd)
Philadelphia Phillies (9-12 / 8-8 Home / 1-4 Away)
Hitters: 3.5 fWAR (10th), 118 wRC+ (3rd), 19.5 K% (2nd), 10.5 BB% (7th)
Pitchers: 2.2 fWAR (19th), 98 FIP- (16th), 24.4 K% (9th), 7.7 BB% (3rd)
Braves - Ronald Acuña Jr. (10-day IL), Ozzie Albies (10-day IL), Cole Hamels (45-day IL), Nick Markakis (Covid-IL), Philip Pfeifer (45-day IL), Mike Soroka (45-day IL), Jeremy Walker (45-day IL), Jacob Webb (45-day IL)
Phillies - Seranthony Dominguez (45-day IL), Adam Haseley (10-day IL), David Robertson (45-day IL), Ranger Suarez (Covid-IL),
Friday, August 21, 7:10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports South)
Aaron Nola (2020: 4 GS, 26.1 IP, 39.8 K%, 4.3 BB%, 45 ERA-, 50 FIP-)
Aaron Nola is off to a tremendous start for the Phillies, posting a strikeout percentage of just under 40% on the season. He has struck out 37 batters in just 26 1/3 innings coming into Friday’s start. Nola held the Braves in check in the series finale up in Philadelphia, limiting them to two hits and one run over eight innings. He struck out 10 and walked just one in a dominant performance. He allowed three hits and struck out eight in seven scoreless innings in his last start against the Mets.
Max Fried (2020: 5 GS, 29.0 IP, 25.4 K%, 8.2 BB%, 27 ERA-, 53 FIP-)
With Mike Soroka lost for the season, Max Fried has emerged as the de facto ace for the Braves and he has lived up to the billing. Fried allowed four hits and struck out six over five scoreless innings in Philadelphia on August 9. He held the Marlins to four hits and struck out seven over 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start, dropping his ERA to 1.24 for the season.
Saturday, August 22, 7:10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports South)
Zack Wheeler (2020: 4 GS, 25.2 IP, 12.0 K%, 6.0 BB%, 62 ERA-, 77 FIP-)
The Braves will get a look at Philadelphia’s big offseason addition, Zack Wheeler, on Saturday. Along with Nola, Wheeler has given the Phillies a solid one-two punch at the top of their rotation. He allowed six hits and two runs over seven innings in his last start against the Mets. Wheeler has allowed two runs or less in three of his four starts this season.
Robbie Erlin (2020: 4 G, 1 GS, 10.0 IP, 33.3 K%, 2.4 BB%, 119 ERA-, 109 FIP-)
After a rough debut, Robbie Erlin tossed four scoreless innings and struck out five while making his first start of the season in Miami. The Braves probably won’t call this a bullpen game outright but they will be looking for Erlin to give them as much as he can before turning things over to the bullpen.
Sunday, August 23, 7:08 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Zach Eflin (2020: 3 GS, 14.0 IP, 37.1 K%, 8.1 BB%, 113 ERA-, 61 FIP-)
Zach Eflin will make his fourth start of the season and will be looking to bounce back from a rough outing last time out. Eflin surrendered five hits, three walks and four runs in just four innings in his last start at Boston. He has allowed 12 hits and eight runs over his last 10 innings.
Josh Tomlin (2020: 9 G, 1 GS, 15.1 IP, 30.0 K%, 6.7 BB%, 51 ERA-, 36 FIP-)
Josh Tomlin has been a key piece of Atlanta’s bullpen in the early going but was inserted into the starting rotation earlier this week. Tomlin allowed six hits and two runs over four innings against the Nationals. He isn’t going to light up any radar guns but has done a good job of limiting hard contact. The Braves will be looking for him to give them some innings and take some of the pressure off of a bullpen that is starting to see the innings pile up.