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A Phillies fan’s guide to tonight’s games

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The Braves take on the Dodgers, the Reds take on the Cardinals, and the Padres take on the Diamondbacks as the Phillies stand to gain ground in their postseason chase.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres
The Phillies can do nothing but watch tonight as those around them determine their fate.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

As you probably already know, the Phillies game has been postponed tonight. That’s a shame, since with the Phillies facing the lowly Nationals, they stood a good chance to gain a game in both the division race and the wild card.

We’re at that point in the year where every day without a Phillies game feels like 100 years, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably be following along with the other important National League games going on today. Here’s a brief preview for all three.

The games are listed here in order of how interested I am in watching them, not the actual order in which they start. The Padres are playing right now (game started at 3:40pm), while the Reds start at 6:40pm and the Braves starts at 10:10pm.

Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

First pitch at 10:10pm Eastern
MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta is on the verge of being swept by LA, which would, of course, be welcome news in Philadelphia. A loss tonight would be especially helpful since the Braves play their next 13 games against the Rockies, Nationals, Marlins, and Rockies (again). The Braves have beat up on bad teams all year (they have a .618 winning percentage against teams below .500), so the Phillies really need them to lose when they’re facing the good teams like the Dodgers. The Braves currently have 11 games left against teams above .500.

Starting for the Dodgers is Max Scherzer, while the Braves counter with a Max of their own, Max Fried. This matchup favors the Dodgers, but not as much as you might think. Scherzer is certainly the better pitcher, but both he and Fried have been equally dominant as of late. Scherzer has a 1.55 ERA and 1.95 FIP in five starts since joining the Dodgers, and the Dodgers have won all five of those games. In the same time span, Fried has a 1.36 ERA and a 2.13 FIP, and the Braves have also won all five of his starts.

While the Dodgers have a terrifying lineup from top to bottom, it’s also worth noting that the two teams have been pretty evenly matched offensively since the trade deadline. Atlanta has a .761 OPS and .327 wOBA since July 31, while the Dodgers have a .750 OPS and .322 wOBA in that ti,e. One more factor to consider is that the Dodgers haven’t hit left-handers particularly well this season (.735 OPS, .315 wOBA), and Braves starter Max Fried is a lefty.

While my gut feeling is to pretty much always favor the Dodgers, it seems like this game really could go either way.

One more thing: X-rays thankfully came back negative after Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies fouled a ball off his knee last night and had to be carried off the field. He’ll miss tonight’s game, which is good for the Phillies, but he isn’t seriously injured, which is good for baseball.

Cincinnati Reds vs. St. Louis Cardinals

First pitch at 6:40pm Eastern
MLB: Game One-St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals will play the second game of a double-header this evening. The Cardinals won the first game this afternoon, which means the Phillies are now just 2 games back of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are also ahead of the Phillies in the wild card race, so it’s not ideal to see them winning games. At least for now, however, we’re still rooting for the Cardinals.

J.A. Happ will start for St. Louis while Sonny Gray starts for the Reds in a pitching matchup that clearly favors Cincinnati. In the 38-year-old Happ’s defense, he’s been pitching much better as of late, with a 2.22 ERA and 4.32 FIP since the trade deadline. Still, it’s hard to forget his last start before the trade deadline, when he gave up 9 earned runs in just three innings against the Detroit Tigers. Sonny Gray has also looked good as of late, with a 2.67 ERA and 2.80 FIP in his last six starts. The start before that, however, he gave up 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings. In other words, both of these pitchers are capable of providing six solid innings on any given night, but they’ve also been known to absolutely implode.

While Gray is the better pitcher and the Reds have the better offense, don’t count the Cardinals out. The Reds’ powerful offense has been awful this year against left-handers (.678 OPS, .297 wOBA), and Happ is a lefty.

San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks

First pitch at 3:40pm Eastern
MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the Arizona Diamondbacks. They giveth and they taketh away. The Phillies’ playoff hopes seemed all but dashed when they were swept by the Diamondbacks earlier this month. Then, the Phillies got their mojo back when they took three of four from Arizona last week. But now, the Diamondbacks are on the verge of being swept by the Padres, which has put the Padres right back in the conversation for the second wild card spot.

The Padres currently hold a 0.5 game lead over the Reds, a 2 game lead over the Cardinals, and a 2.5 game lead over the Phillies. Fortunately for us, San Diego has a very tough schedule to finish out the year. Even if they beat the Diamondbacks tonight, it’s hard to imagine them maintaining their hold on a playoff spot.

That's a comforting thought, because it’s a pretty safe bet that the Padres will remain the second wild card team for at least one more night, as they have the clear advantage in this afternoon’s matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ace right-hander Yu Darvish is on the mound for the Padres, and the Diamondbacks have been absolutely awful against righties all year. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are starting righty Luke Weaver, who shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge for Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, or Jake Cronenworth.