September 21, 2023

The story goes on—Phillies-Braves NLDS Preview, October 11 – 16


Miles Kennedy/Philadelphia Phillies

They rebuilt in the offseason, started their about as poorly as possible, went through a mid-season managerial change, and then made the playoffs. You don’t see that too often, but it’s been a season of highs and lows for the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies.

Many thought the Phillies would be wrapping up their season after game 165 in St. Louis, but as it turns out, the Phillies aren’t ready to suspend Red October just yet.

The story goes on.

In their first playoff series since being eliminated from the National League Division Series in 2011, the Phillies swept through St. Louis in a best-of-three Wild Card series against the Cardinals.

And if you’re going to mention highs, there were plenty to talk about in St. Louis; specifically, Jean Segura’s celebratory jump and Bryce Harper’s long home run that led the Phillies to their current position: the 2022 NLDS.

The Phillies are set to take on the defending-champion Atlanta Braves in a best-of-five division series beginning on Tuesday in Atlanta.

It’s been 29 years since the Phillies and Braves met in the postseason, and it was surely a memorable series for Philadelphians. A 4-2 series victory in the NLCS punched the Phils’ ticket to the 1993 World Series, where they eventually lost to the Blue Jays in six games.

Interestingly enough, there were some similarities between the ’93 team and the squad we saw this season. A strong rotation and a scrappy lineup led the squad to the National League East pennant, but they nearly had another September collapse, which we’ve seen are still prevalent outcomes today. Though both teams struggled in September, they both bounced back once the playoffs rolled around. But this ’22 team still has a few more steps to top the 1993 National League champions, and it all starts in Atlanta.

Get off on the right foot

Typically, game two is the most important contest in a playoff series, but a game-one Phillies win might be the most important key to success in Atlanta.

Tuesday’s game one will mark the first time the Braves return to Truist Park for a postseason game since they won game five of the 2021 World Series. And when you look at the depth chart, one could argue that the current Braves team is deeper than the group that won it all less than a year ago.

Needless to say, Braves’ ace Max Fried taking the mound for game one will further add to the Atlanta energy that is bound to be a strong presence during Tuesday’s game one. With Ranger Suarez going for the Phillies in a clearly mismatched pitching alignment, pulling off a game-one win would be improbable yet game-changing as the Phillies’ rotation resets for game two.

We’ve also seen the Phillies do well in series where the first game ends in their favor, so a victory in game one would set a positive tone for the upcoming set.

Paid for a reason

Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber highlighted a busy offseason for the Phillies’ front office, but neither the 2021 Silver Slugger nor the 2022 NL home run king had any highlights in the Wild Card series.

And if the Phillies want their season to continue, these two superstars must step up. The two outfielders are being paid a total of $40 million in 2022, and a combined 0 for 14 with six strikeouts is not going to cut it in the most relevant series the Phillies are scheduled to play in a decade.

Castellanos, a right-handed hitter, has an advantage with a lefty on the mound for the Braves in game one. He has five hits in nine at-bats against Fried this season, but a changeup that drops and spins away from him could be a problem for Castellanos. In the regular season, opponents were hitting just .173 when Fried threw his changeup. Of the 19 hits he allowed using the changeup, only three went for extra bases. He still doesn’t use it as much as his four-seamer, curveball, and slider, but Fried has increased the usage of his changeup by 11.9% just this season.

Schwarber, on the other hand, has a slim .098 batting average against Max Fried, Spencer Strider, and Kyle Wright—the top three pitchers in the Braves’ rotation. Strider’s status is still up in the air as of Monday night, so the Phillies could end up seeing him in a long relief role.

Pitching matchups

Game 1: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 10-7, 3.65 ERA) vs. Max Fried (LHP, 14-7, 2.48 ERA)

Game 2: Zack Wheeler (RHP, 12-7, 2.82 ERA) vs. Kyle Wright (RHP, 21-5, 3.19 ERA)

Game 3: Aaron Nola (RHP, 11-13, 3.25 ERA) vs. Spencer Strider (RHP, 11-5, 2.67 ERA)

Game 4 (if necessary): Noah Syndergaard (RHP, 10-10, 3.94 ERA) vs. (RHP, 9-6, 4.34 ERA)

Game 5 (if necessary): TBD vs. TBD

Note that the above statistics are from the 2022 regular season.

The numbers

  • Run Differential:
  • Phillies: 62
  • Braves: 180
  • Runs Scored Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.61
  • Braves: 4.87
  • Runs Allowed Per Game:
  • Phillies: 4.23
  • Braves: 3.76

Note that the above values are from the 2022 regular season.

Game times and broadcasts

  • Tuesday, October 11, at 1:07pm ET on Fox, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP, ESPN Radio (Game in ATL)
  • Wednesday, October 12, at 4:35pm ET on Fox, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP, ESPN Radio (Game in ATL)
  • Friday, October 14, at 4:35pm ET on Fox Sports One, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP, ESPN Radio (Game in PHI)
  • (If necessary) Saturday, October 15, at 2:07pm ET on Fox Sports One, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP, ESPN Radio (Game in PHI)
  • (If necessary) Sunday, October 16, at TBD on Fox Sports One, WTTM 1680, 94.1 WIP, ESPN Radio (Game in ATL)

Game coverage will be available on Philly Sports Reports’ Twitter page, and a live pregame show will be hosted on Philly Sports Reports’ YouTube channel about 35 minutes prior to first pitch of a each NLDS game.

The pitching matchups, injury reports, and game times will be updated once the needed information becomes available.

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