December 2, 2023

Chance to Gain Ground — Series Preview: Braves at Phillies, June 20 – 22


Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

It may only be June, but this series has the potential to be one of the most influential series of the season. Eight games ahead of the Phillies in the National League East, the Braves are coming to Philadelphia in hopes of stopping the red-hot Phillies from gaining any ground in the standings.

Despite their recent winning ways, the Braves will be no easy task for the third-place Phillies. Fully healthy, Ronald Acuna, Jr. is having an MVP-caliber season, as he is second in the national league in hits, batting average, and OPS, and he is third in the NL in doubles and slugging percentage.

Meanwhile, they have a pitching staff led by Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and 2023 Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Bryce Elder.

The Phillies will not meet the Braves again until September, so the Phillies must gain a few games on the Braves now before they meet again in the fallbecause there is no doubt that Atlanta will make valuable additions before the August 1st trade deadline.

Last Time They Met

When the Phillies and Braves last met in May, the Phils came away with a much-needed series split at Truist Park. In the Phillies’ two wins, they were led by strong pitching performances from Taijuan Walker and Zack Wheeler. Many recall Wheeler’s memorable eight-inning, twelve-strikeout performance in game three, where he led the Phillies to a 2-1 win.

Offensively, Nick Castellanos did the majority of the heavy lifting, as he notched seven hits in the series and drove in two runs. Bryce Harper also had a strong game one, where he scored twice and recorded three hits.

A Good Series for Marsh and the Lefties?

Brandon Marsh’s early season MVP run has become a distant memory. Marsh hit .321 in April and posted an OPS of 1.032, putting him atop the league leaderboards at the beginning of the season. However, his hot streak came to an abrupt end—Marsh hit .208 in May, and thus far in June, he has a cold .184/.232/.204 slash line.

In this series, Marsh will face three right-handed pitchers, which should give him and Bryce Harper—the Phillies’ two struggling left-handed hitters—a chance to get back on track.

In 2023, Marsh has a .268 batting average and a .790 OPS against righties, which is exponentially better than his .211 average against lefties. Marsh also has an impressive .338/.515/.592 slash line when ahead in the count, which could come into play against Spencer Strider, the Braves’ game one starter. At times this season, Strider has struggled with his control (he ranks in just the 35th percentile in BB%), so Marsh may have a leg up offensively in game one.

Harper, whose “struggles” look a little different than those of Brandon Marsh, also has an opportunity to find his power against this right-handed heavy rotation. In May—the month he returned from injury—Harper had a strong .483 slugging percentage, but he is slugging just .333 in 63 at-bats this month. Harper has not hit a home run since May 25 against the Braves.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, June 20, at 6:40pm ET on TBS, NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP
  • Saturday, June 21, at 6:40pm ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP
  • Sunday, June 22, at 1:05pm ET  on NBC, WTTM 1680 (Spanish), and 94.1 WIP

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Ranger Suarez (LHP, 1-2, 3.82 ERA) vs. Spencer Strider (RHP, 7-2, 4.12 ERA)

Game 2: Aaron Nola (RHP, 6-5, 4.66 ERA) vs AJ Smith-Shawver (RHP, 1-0, 2.03 ERA)

Game 3: Taijuan Walker (RHP, 7-3, 4.31 ERA) vs. Bryce Elder (RHP, 5-1, 2.60 ERA)

By the Numbers

  • Run Differential
  • Phillies: -13
  • Braves: 100
  • Runs Scored Per Game
  • Phillies: 4.44
  • Braves: 5.49
  • Runs Allowed Per Game
  • Phillies: 4.63
  • Braves: 4.10

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

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