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And now...the Braves: Phillies vs. Braves series preview

How will the Phillies respond? Your guess is as good as mine

San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
Matt Olson has not been the upgrade the Braves expected
Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Jean Segura and Roman Quinn (with a big assist from Max Muncy) might have saved the Phillies’ season on Sunday. The comeback victory against the Dodgers avoided a disheartening sweep and gave the Phillies some momentum heading into their first matchup of the season against the Atlanta Braves.

Did I say momentum? Just kidding! As has been well established, momentum is largely unheard of in baseball, and especially for the Phillies. This team seems to specialize in following up emotional wins with games where the players appear to sleepwalk their way to a 4-1 loss.

The Phillies will be travelling to Atlanta’s Truist Park, a stadium where they haven’t had a lot of success in recent years. I’d say that was a bad sign, except the Phillies had also largely sucked at Dodger Stadium over the past few seasons, and they ended up playing their best baseball of the season there.

Atlanta Braves

Record: 19-22 (Second place in National League East, eight games back)

The last time they met

The Phillies visited Truist in September 2021 with one final chance to get their way back to the top of the National League East standings. It didn’t go well.

What’s the deal with the Braves?

Much like the Phillies, the Braves have struggled to play consistent winning baseball in 2022. The Braves have been rather consistent in their inconsistency though: Their longest winning streak of the season is two games, while their longest losing streak is also two games.

Who needs Freddie, right?

When the Braves allowed franchise mainstay Freddie Freeman to depart in free agency, the company line was that they’d be just fine because they replaced him with a younger, arguably better player in Matt Olson.

Olson may eventually turn out to be an improvement, but so far, the change hasn’t worked in the Braves’ favor. A season after hitting 39 home runs, Olson has just four in 2022, and his OPS sits at .785 which is generally not what you want from the power-hitting first baseman who is supposed to be the anchor of the lineup.

Who’s cold?

With Ronald Acuna, Jr. missing time at the beginning of the season, the Braves have been forced to give extra playing time to Travis Demeritte. He hasn’t done much to show he deserves it though, as he’s batting .217 on the season, and over the past two weeks, that figure drops to just .167.

Joe must go?

As the Phillies looked to be headed for their fourth straight loss on Sunday, I was calling for Joe Girardi’s head.

While the Phillies escaped with a win, and Girardi is (as of when I’m writing this, at least) still the manager, I’m not sure that being the fortunate beneficiary of Max Muncy’s ineptitude is enough to change my mind.

This team has bigger problems than the manager, but it also seems clear that Girardi’s supposed steady leadership isn’t getting the job done. A team full of established, veteran hitters should theoretically work under Girardi, but something isn’t clicking. This lineup gets shut down with far too much regularity, and it feels like they need a solid kick in the butt.

Commercial analysis

It’s happened far too often this season: The Phillies offense went down quietly in an inning or botched a prime scoring opportunity. The broadcast goes to commercial, and we’re “treated” to this:

That’s just all sorts of awful. When my team is struggling, I’ll tell you what doesn’t make me feel better about it: A seemingly endless repeat of “Ding-ding-ding-ding-di-ding-ding.” Whoever came up with this commercial should be forced to listen to it on endless loop for at least 24 hours.

Also, the woman who uses the app looks WAY too self-satisfied. Lady, nobody cares that you used your phone to pay. The only people who might care would be anyone waiting in line behind you, and as we see, there’s nobody else there. So take your smug look elsewhere, and be thankful I don’t stick you in the 24-hour loop room with the person who wrote the commercial.


Last series’ answer: The first Dodger to hit a home run at Citizens Bank Park was Adrian Beltre. EbbyCalvinLaLoosh was correct.

This series’ question: Since Truist Park opened in 2017, five different Phillies pitchers have made starts there in which they’ve struck out eight batters. Name them.

Closing thought

The Phillies have already fallen eight games behind the Mets. That’s not an insurmountable deficit at this point in the season, but if they fall behind the Braves as well, the situation looks a lot more dire. The Phillies need to win this series.