With a win today, the Phillies can party in their home clubhouse, again, heading into the NLCS, something they did against the same Atlanta Braves in 2022. With the Braves sending their ace, Spencer Strider, to the rubber, it won’t be an easy task, but a loss would send the Braves back to their ballpark with the momentum, the worst possible scenario for our Phightins.
Here is the Phillies’ starting lineup for game four:
- DH Kyle Schwarber
- SS Trea Turner
- 1B Bryce Harper
- 3B Alec Bohm
- 2B Bryson Stott
- C J.T. Realmuto
- RF Nick Castellanos
- LF Brandon Marsh
- CF Johan Rojas
We know what is to be seen from Strider, the Braves’ aforementioned ace and game-four starting pitcher. He’ll fill the top of the zone with high-velocity sliders before spinning a vicious slider in the bottom of the zone. Despite sounding simple, this virtually unhittable sequence led to him striking out 281 batters in the regular season.
In game one of the NLDS, Strider allowed an earned run and struck out eight over
So what advantages do the Phils have on offense? Surprisingly, there are a few rather significant ones. For starters, Strider has struggled when pitching with short rest this season. In eight occurrences, Strider has a 5.56 ERA in those starts. When throwing on five days of rest, he had an improved 3.38 ERA.
It’s also well known that Strider struggled immensely in his most recent postseason game at Citizens Bank Park, as his lingering injury turned into a Home Run Derby for the injured Rhys Hoskins.
Here is the Braves’ starting lineup for game four:
- RF Ronald Acuna Jr.
- 2B Ozzie Albies
- 3B Austin Riley
- 1B Matt Olson
- DH Marcell Ozuna
- C Sean Murphy
- LF Kevin Pillar
- SS Orlando Arcia
- CF Michael Harris II
Just like in game one, the Braves will face Phillies’ southpaw Ranger Suarez, who allowed no runs on one hit in 3.2 innings on Saturday.
With the Phillies having some flexibility with bullpen management tonight, it will be interesting to see how Rob Thomson handles Suarez, who threw just 53 pitches in his previous start. If he looks as good as he did on Saturday, it may be hard to justify pulling Suarez early, even though Thomson’s brilliant bullpen plan was a raging (literally) success.
Because of injuries during the regular season, Suarez lacked consistent results, but when he is able to locate his fastball effectively, he can be one of the most puzzling pitchers in the league.
Zack Wheeler, the Phillies’ ace, commented on Suarez before game one: “He’s a really good pitcher. He’s confident, and he’s not scared of any lineup. He has experience against these guys, and he’s one of our best pitchers, plain and simple. And he’s an awesome human being… we have all the faith in him.”