The Phillies: In their past ten games, it is not incorrect to say that the Phillies have been as good as the NL East-leading Nationals at 7-3. Maybe they'll even go into the All-Star break having found some level of success now that Maikel Franco, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, and Cody Asche are all hitting, just in time for the unsexiest trade deadline of all time.
The Braves: Atlanta got to call a the largest U.S. military facility their home field last night, and while doing so, scored twice off the Marlins in a 5-2 loss. Despite the loss, it was the most American thing the Braves have done since swindling community residents and stifling local businesses during the planning and construction of their new stadium in Cobb County. Happy America's birthday, everyone.
Freddie Freeman: I didn't even look at his numbers, I just know he's the only hitter on the team and he was on base every time I looked up last night.
Erick Aybar: The Braves shortstop has been finding the ball over the past week, a blip of success in a season in which he's been slashing .225/.282/.272.
Jace Peterson: He's 10 for his last 28, with four doubles and two home runs. And YOU ALL DOUBTED HIM. LOOK AT YOU NOW, LOSERS; SITTING THERE, READING THIS SERIES PREVIEW AS JACE PETERSON SOARS INTO THE UPPER ECHELONS OF OUR SPECIES. FOOLS. FOOLS!!
Maikel Franco: Isn't it cool how Maikel Franco is back. Just in time for Independence Day, too. In fact, you might say, Franco's rebirth at the plate is fate telling us that he is the new America.
Cameron Rupp: The backstop is 8 for his last 17 with a tater on Sunday afternoon that occurred with actual runners on base. It only landed in the outfield seats, however; not the moon's orbit, like Cody Asche's.
Jimmy Paredes: The man got six at-bats this past week, and he got a hit in three of them, including a double. It's only a matter of time before Peter Bourjos identifies him as a threat in the outfield and sucks him dry of any and all skill, as he did with Tommy Joseph.
Joel De La Cruz vs. Jerad Eickhoff, 4:05 p.m.
In one start this year, De La Cruz went six innings, allowed three earned runs and seven hits, and walked one. To be fair, he was dropped onto a big league pitching mound and had to face the most unstoppable monstrosity the sport has seen this month in the Indians, who made De La Cruz into a slight bump as their war machine barreled through Atlanta, picking up their 10th, 11th, and 12th wins of a 14-game win streak.
The curve is working. The slider is working. The Eickhoff-Chooch battery is working (Eickhoff has a 2.43 ERA in his last four starts, all of which were caught by Carlos Ruiz). Just keep doing what you're doing, guys.
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Zach Eflin, 7:05 p.m.
The Phillies will get to face another Braves starter who has seen close to no big league hitters this year in Foltynewicz. The Braves starter got bounced off the active roster due to bone spurs - that's happening a lot these days - and he has remained there for about a month. This is a hurler who is looking more to ease himself back into the routine of a major league starting pitcher than he is trying to win a meaningless game (though I can't imagine anyone admitting that). What I'm saying is, won't it really be something when the Phillies lose this game?
Though perhaps Eflin will give them the chance they need to beat a rehabbing Mike Foltynewicz (who has a 7.36 ERA against them since 2014) (Though that is just over two appearances, one of which was in relief) (Still). After his eight-run shelling in his debut, Eflin has allowed only five earned runs and one walk in 17.2 IP. Eflin never goes very deep and still hasn't thrown 100 pitches in a start, but the Phillies are handling all the young starters a little gently right now, giving Aaron Nola a break before the All-Star Game just to clear his head.
Julio Teheran vs. Jeremy Hellickson, 1:05 p.m.
It's the battle of the trade chips on Wednesday as the Phillies' most movable asset, Hellickson, takes on the pitcher that a team would probably rather acquire than himself in Teheran. Both starters are considered to be two of the deadline's bigger trade candidates - more so Teheran, whose upside is higher but likelihood of being traded lower, though Hellickson has separated himself from a patch of rough starts - He's got a 2.37 ERA over his last three appearances.
But don't worry - as local press dictates this part of the season's narrative, you can be sure that neither pitcher is "even thinking about that right now" and is "just going out there to try and get the W."
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