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Leveled out: Phillies vs. Braves series preview

The Braves have merely been a .500 team since their winning streak ended

Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubs
Adam Duvall, watching a ball that was likely a routine out
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Braves were THE story of baseball in the early part of June. While the Phillies went on an impressive tear after firing their manager, the Braves somehow gained ground on them in the standings, thanks to a 14-game winning streak. But it’s now been ten games since the winning streak ended, and in those ten games, the Braves are a very unspectacular 5-5.

Does this mean that the Braves have leveled out to their true talent level? If so, this would be a great opportunity for the Phillies to win two or more games in this series, and get themselves a step closer to second place in the division.

Atlanta Braves

Record: 42-32 (Second place in National League East, five games back)

The last time they met

The Phillies visited Truist Park in late May for a four-game set. The Phillies won the first and last games but tripped up in the middle two. One of those losses was a “Joe Girardi special” as he mishandled the bullpen to the point Nick Nelson was forced to try to pitch two innings to close out a win. It was not a successful effort.

Since then

It was a week after that game that the Braves began the 14-game win streak. But in games that didn’t fall during the streak, the Braves are a meager 7-9 since their last meeting.

Who’s cold?

Adam Duvall hasn’t gotten untracked all season. After briefly getting his batting average up to the dizzying heights of .209, a poor couple of weeks have dropped him back under the Mendoza line. According to Baseball Reference, he’s been worth negative 0.6 wins above replacement this season.

For some reason though, he’s ahead of Kyle Schwarber in All-Star voting.

The stars aren’t out

As we know, Bryce Harper won’t be playing in this series. But it appears as if Braves’ star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr will not be making an appearance either.

The Braves might actually be happy about this considering they fared well without Acuna last year, and it’s possible that he’s bad luck.

Historical Braves suckiness

Remember Jo-Jo Reyes? You might not, because he wasn’t especially good. In fact, he was one of the worst pitchers in Braves history.

He pitched for the Braves from 2007 to 2010, and arguably got worse every year until the Braves finally gave up on him. He actually made his way to the Phillies’ system a few years later, but never reached the major league team.

Trivia

Last series’ answer: Nate Colbert is the Padres’ franchise leader in home runs with a whopping 163. Dirkniblick got it first.

This series’ question: From 2012-2021, Freddie Freeman led the Braves with 124 home runs away from home. Which two players tied for second place in that time span?

The All-Star Game: What is it?

We find ourselves firmly in “Complain about All-Star voting” season.

It should be noted that Sheffield seems to really enjoy complaining about election results, so maybe his comments shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

I suppose I’m not immune to the phenomenon, because as mentioned earlier, something seems off when Kyle Schwarber, who is second in the National League in home runs, is behind Adam Duvall who is having a lousy year. But is this a travesty that I need to spend hours lamenting about? I don’t think so.

Part of the problem is that it isn’t clear exactly what the All-Star Game is supposed to be. Is it a reward for the players having the best seasons? Is it a showcase for the game’s biggest stars? Thankfully, it no longer “counts” which only served to add another conflicting interest.

If the game was truly about honoring the players having the best first half, then the starting lineup shouldn’t be chosen by fan vote. Because fans are generally going to vote for the biggest names and hometown favorites. (For instance, Braves fans are generally odious, but it’s clear that they cast All-Star votes for their players at a much higher rate than Phillies’ fans.)

Closing thought

The Phillies’ bullpen looked downright good over the weekend in San Diego. Was that a temporary blip in another bad season, or have the Phillies’ relievers finally turned a corner? Either way, I just hope the Phillies don’t find themselves in a position where Nick Nelson is once again being asked to cover two late innings in a one-run game.