Tuesday is the first game of a three-game set from SunTrust Park as the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Atlanta Braves in a National League East clash. This matchup is super intriguing as it is between the top two teams in the NL East, and they are separated by only five and a half games. Just a month ago, the roles were reversed.
The Phillies were in first place and looking like the team we thought they were after their offseason roster surgery. They added Bryce Harper, Jean Segura, and JT Realmuto and it worked right off the bat. They started the season 33-25 and had a two-game lead on June 1. However, the Phillies went 15-15 in June, and the Braves capitalized by going 20-8.
Boy oh boy, do we have a pitching matchup to kick off this series. For the Phillies, Aaron Nola will take the hill for his 18th start of the season. So far in 2019, Nola is 6-2 with a 4.22 ERA; however, Nola hasn’t gotten a win since May. Nola was the unfortunate victim of the Phillies’ poor offensive month of June.
Three times in June, he went out and had a quality start and didn’t get a win. His last two starts, in particular, were dazzling, with a combined 15 innings pitched and only one earned run combined. And yet somehow, not only did he not get a win, but he took a loss in one of the games.
There was some worry for Nola early in the season as he got off to a rough start. In a four-game stretch in April, Nola gave up a total of 18 runs. Right when it seemed the worry was warranted, Nola returned to the Cy Young candidate we all knew he was. Late April into early May, Nola gave up one earned run in five out of seven starts. Over that stretch, Nola went 4-0 and struck out 46 batters.
For the Braves, Dallas Keuchel will get the ball for the third start of his season. It’s been a so-so go of it in 2019 so far for Keuchel as he’s gone 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA. It seems that Keuchel is still trying to knock some rust off, and, while he got the win last start, it was with some luck.
He only gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings, but he did give up eight hits and three walks. His FIP for that start was 8.68, and overall it is 5.81, so it would seem as if he’s getting bailed out by having a really good team behind him.
Batter To Watch
A little bit of a different pick here. No Bryce Harper, or Ronald Acuna Jr. Not even Austin Riley. However, I’m going to pick what seems like the forgotten man in Atlanta: Josh Donaldson. He’s having a very solid season, batting .253 with 15 home runs and 39 RBI. The interesting thing here is his numbers off Aaron Nola. He is 6-for-11 in his career off Nola, with two home runs, a double, and four runs batted in.
June was a rough month for the Phillies. I think July will be better. They get a good draw in their first game, as they are an absolutely terrific hitting team against left-handed pitching (.263 batting average as a team against lefties). I’ll take the Phillies in this matchup.
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