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Phillies begin the end with three-game affair in Atlanta

The Phillies return to where they have already dominated the Braves this year, after being dominated by the Braves somewhere else.

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The Phillies: A well-rested crew of noncontenders, the best of whom are in constant trade conversations. Jonanthan Papelbon to the Dodgers? Cole Hamels to the Yankees? No, wait - Red Sox! Look out, Marlon Byrd's Mariners deal is stalling! Aaaaa! AAAAAAAA!!!!

The Braves: A squadron of hot young stars, wondering why they haven't run away with the division yet while trying to gloss over the first of what are likely many in-house Dan Uggla hissy fits. Their fans' favorite means of support is to moan in unison 40 or 50 times a game to cover the awkward silence that comes with watching their so-called team of contenders get sweeped by the god forsaken Phillies. At the moment, the mayor of their city is desperate to know how soon they'll be leaving town forever.

Heavy Hitters

Freddie Freeman (.295/.384/.495, 52 RBI, 13 HR)

Freddie Freeman may still be buzzing with childlike excitement after getting his hit in the All-Star Game! Chase Utley may still be unreasonably stoic after logging his third hit in an All-Star Game, and even knocked in a run for an NL squad that just couldn't keep up with him.

A shame, really; Utley, battling, despite his team having no benefit from the outcome of the game; but Freeman, whose team would claim they could really use home field advantage in the World Series, giggling with glee over a fruitless one-bagger. Experts have agreed endlessly over the years that a team may have all the pieces to win it all in October, but if they don't have a half-empty stadium of brainless chanting in Game One, well, that could mean everything.

Freeman is lucky that modern technology has perfected crotch replacement surgery so that he wouldn't have to miss any time after the All-Star Game.

Evan Gattis (.290/.342/.558, 39 RBI, 16 HR)

Not even a quirky back story could keep Gattis off the 15-day DL, which is where he resided up to the All-Star break. He's currently rehabbing in the Braves' minor league system, trying to survive ravenous hobos and loose circus animals while riding the rails of the Deep South.

"Is Evan Gattis for real?" a blog recently asked. They settled on the rock solid conclusion of, "If he keeps being for real, then he will be for real."

Chase Utley (.293/.349/.445, 46 RBI, 8 HR)

Just keep doing what you're doing, buddy.

Probable Starters

  • July 18: A.J. Burnett/Ervin Santana
  • July 19: Cole Hamels/???
  • July 20: Kyle Kendrick/???

When it comes to setting the rotation, the Braves prefer to live in the moment. It's just so much more refreshing, y'know? It's like, just let go and accept the craziness of life. What if we don't even play baseball tonight? What if we just lie in the grass and look at the stars? What'll all your planning have gotten you then, Mr. Organized?

/blows dandelion into your face

Surely, Kyle Kendrick's 11.37 first inning ERA isn't anything to worry about.  I mean, it's not like his manic inconsistency was ever a weakness before, and now, with free agency in the background, and the team ready to trade him if an offer comes down, it's not like being something other than monstrously unhelpful would be, you know. Helpful. What team making a playoff push doesn't need a fourth or fifth starter who can't get out of the first inning??

Hamels has given up 12 runs in the last four weeks. He's faced the Braves once this year, and shut them out over the course of seven innings, with two walks and six strikeouts. He's a real dandy of a fella, that Hamels. Hope he turns out all right.

You'd think being buried 10 games under the division leaders with no playoffs or any real exciting future in sight would do something to a guy's desire to play in this city, but here Burnett, is saying he wants to stay. It's awfully sweet, but Philly was one of the few places he would have signed int he first place, with the alternative being retirement, so he likely doesn't want to move anywhere anyway, and already has a World Series, so you can't blame a guy for not wanting to pack his bags at 37 years old because Ruben Amaro has decided that Operation: This is not a Rebuild is go.

The one starter the Braves have made available, Ervin Santana, recently couldn't contain his excitement for the Braves without abruptly seque-ing into a campaign to spread awareness about malaria. Maybe the Braves just remind him of an epidemic? No, it's a serious cause. Donate here.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now.Here's the FanDuel link.