Short-term gain for long-term gain—Series Preview: Braves at Phillies, July 25 – 27

Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY

As the ups and downs continue, the Phillies will face the red-hot Atlanta Braves in a three-game series. The offense will need to pick it up, and Ranger Suarez must find his 2021 approach if the Phils want to get back on track.

The Phillies will look to retake the third Wild Card spot, and the Braves will look to take over the National League East. The Phils are one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the third Wild Card Spots, and the Braves are 1.5 games back of the Mets in the East.

Last time they met

It has been nearly a month since these two division rivals squared off, and that is a great thing for the Phillies. The Braves have been one of the best teams in baseball over the past three months, and they have displayed no signs of slowing down.

The Braves have a talented group of young starting pitchers and an infield with four all-stars. And you cannot leave out Ronald Acuna, Jr.—one of the biggest stars in the game since his arrival in the major leagues.

When they met in late June, the Phillies and Braves were both in the middle of hot streaks. Unfortunately, the Braves took two of three in Philadelphia and cooled the Phillies off.

The Phillies wasted a solid performance by Zack Wheeler and a game-tying home run hit by Kyle Schwarber in game one. In game two, the Phils’ offense fell flat on its face. Luckily, the Phillies were able to salvage the third and final game of the series with a big win to end the month.

A rested Nola

Aaron Nola, the Phillies starter in game two, will be pitching with eight days of rest. And with a bullpen that had to throw 11.2 innings in the last three days, this will be very useful for the Phillies. Nola has a 3.13 ERA in 19 starts and has been the Phillies’ best starter outside of Zack Wheeler. With the extended rest time, Nola should be able to throw a lot of pitches and save the bullpen for Wednesday’s game, in which the Phillies’ starter has not yet been determined.

Wake up the top of the order

As a team, the Phillies are hitting .208 since the all-star break. But Nick Castellanos, Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber, and Matt Vierling are hitting just .156 since returning from the short hiatus.

For a team that will likely make or miss the playoffs by one or two games, this cannot happen. Castellanos is continuing to struggle in a season where he is putting up career worsts in almost every offensive category, and Kyle Schwarber has just two hits in his last 28 at-bats.

This new-look lineup might not stay intact for long, but the Phillies need to find a way to make it work until Jean Segura returns.

The top of the lineup producing is especially important when you lack depth, like the Phillies. Yairo Munoz, Johan Camargo, and Didi Gregorius are good options off the bench but should not be used as everyday players.

Winning before the deadline

The trade deadline is almost a week away, and the Phillies need to put on a show. They need to prove to their front office that they are capable of winning, and so far in the second half, they have not done that.

The trade deadline always has some gray areas, and the Phillies need to avoid that. Some teams buy and sell, and other teams will not make any transactions. Hopefully, the Phillies can stay in the black and white and make a big splash before the deadline. But if the Phillies drop back to .500 after this series, they can say goodbye to their chances of landing a top-of-the-rotation starter or a centerfielder with a solid bat.

And the focus will not only be on the well-known Phils. Utility men like Odubel Herrera and Johan Camargo will be watched closely, along with younger prospects like Matt Vierling and Bryson Stott. If the Phillies want to trade for a bigger name, they will have to part with both prospects and veterans to fill holes for the remainder of the season.

But if they don’t win now, their chances of winning more in the future will not get any better.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 7-5, 4.07 ERA) vs. Max Fried (LHP, 10-3, 2.64 ERA)

Game 2: Aaron Nola (RHP, 6-7, 3.13 ERA) vs. Spencer Strider (RHP, 4-3, 3.03 ERA)

Game 3: TBD vs. Charlie Morton (RHP, 5-4, 4.2 ERA)

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 44
  • Braves: 76
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.61
  • Braves: 4.76
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.15
  • Braves: 3.98

Game times and broadcasts

  • Monday, July 25, at 7:05pm ET on MLB Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Tuesday, July 26, at 7:05pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP
  • Wednesday, July 27, at 12:35pm ET on MLB Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP

Game coverage will be available on Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter page.

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