The series opener between the Braves and Phillies will feature a pitching matchup of absolute polar-opposite starters. You would be hard-pressed to find two pitchers in Major League Baseball with less commonality than a left-hander who barely tops 90 MPH with his fastball and a right-hander who sits in the upper 90’s. Despite their vast differences, Erlin is somehow a more effective strikeout pitcher, which should make for an interesting matchup on Friday.
The Braves hope that Erlin can establish himself as a member of the rotation going forward, but he will likely need better results to achieve that feat. He enters play with a 5.14 ERA, though his xERA is just 3.14, which indicates that Erlin has been wildly unlucky this season. His underlying metrics back up this notion despite a severely high barrel percentage, although the sample size can skew this figure very quickly.
Zack Wheeler is unlike Erlin, as noted above, but somehow is unable to record more than ~6 strikeouts per nine innings. Erlin has managed to post a number significantly higher, striking out 17 batters in 14 innings. This development is encouraging for the Braves and must be somewhat troubling for the Phillies. Wheeler has historically posted strikeout numbers right around one per inning, which seems more befitting of his arsenal, but the strikeouts have been absent in 2020. This could also be the result of a small sample size, and Wheeler has been very effective from an opponents batted ball perspective, but power stuff generally produces more flashy numbers. The Phillies still have to be pleased with their young hurler, as his ability to limit hard contact thus far has been among the best in baseball.
This matchup should be fun to follow as the Braves look to solve Wheeler, while Philadelphia will attempt to get this series off to a better start than the previous matchup with Atlanta.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, August 28, 7:10 p.m. EST
Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
TV: FSSO, NBCSP
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network