Critical road trip for the Braves begins in Philadelphia
After a series of rain drenched against the San Diego Padres, the Atlanta Braves will hit the road for a critical road trip that will set the course for the remainder of their season. Atlanta will start a four-game streak in Philadelphia on Thursday before facing the Food in a five-game series that includes a doubles schedule. This will take them to the trade deadline where they could add more coins to the list or sell based on their position in the leaderboard.
The Braves come out of a frustrating family. They dropped two of the three at Tampa Bay Rays despite a late lead in all three games. Their first series game against San Diego was rained on Monday and rescheduled for a double schedule Wednesday. They won Tuesday’s game 2-1, but then dropped out of Game 1 on Wednesday 3-2 and were down in Game 2 5-4 when play was suspended due to rain.
Philadelphia came into play Wednesday in second place in the NL East, 2.5 games behind the New York Mets. They have been particularly tough at home where they are 27-17 this season. They are currently scrambling and trying to support a pitching staff who have been hit hard by injuries and absence from COVID. They put Bailey Falter and JD Hammer on the COVID list earlier this week when Zach Eflin was on the 10 Day Injured List due to knee tendonitis. They threw an enclosure match on Wednesday against the Yankees and will enter this weekend’s series with an enclosure that has been taxed in recent days.
Thursday, July 22, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Charlie Morton (19 GS, 105.0 IP, 27.7 K%, 8.2 BB%, 3.69 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.45 xFIP, 89 ERA-)
Charlie Morton will run with an extra day off after the Braves juggled their rotation earlier this week due to rain on Monday. Morton was Atlanta’s top starter for most of the season. He allowed six hits and three runs in six innings in his last start against the Rays. He didn’t have much luck against the Philly this season. He allowed six hits and three runs in five innings in his first start of the season on April 3. Morton faced them again on May 7 and had his shortest outing of the year with four hits and six unearned runs in just 2/3 of an inning.
Matt Moore (13 G, 7 GS, 36.0 IP, 19.9 K%, 10.2 BB%, 5.25 ERA, 5.37 FIP, 5.26 xFIP, 129 ERA-)
Matt Moore struggled on his first stint in the Philadelphia rotation, but injuries and ongoing COVID issues gave him another opportunity. Moore has made four straight starts and allowed a total of 17 hits and six earned runs in his last 17 2/3 innings. He’s lasted up to five innings on two occasions this season, the first in his second start of the year against Atlanta where he allowed nine hits and five runs in five innings. He made two relief appearances against the Braves in early May, allowing three hits and a run in two innings.
Friday, July 23, 7:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Max Fried (15 GS, 79.2 IP, 23.2 K%, 7.6 BB%, 4.29 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 104 ERA-)
Friday’s game will feature a renowned pitching clash between Max Fried and Zach Wheeler. Fried was impressive at mound and home plate in his last start, shooting seven scoreless innings while registering three hits at home in a win over Tampa Bay. That ended a streak of two straight starts where he had struggled and still has a 4.76 ERA on three starts in July. Fried allowed six hits and two runs in five innings against the Phillies on Opening Day.
Zack Wheeler (19 GS, 125.2 IP, 30.6 K%, 5.6 BB%, 2.44 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 2.73 xFIP, 60 ERA-)
Wheeler is having the best season of his career, but has suffered a bit in his last two starts. After shooting 7 2/3 innings scoreless against the Padres on July 2, Wheeler allowed eight hits and seven runs, although only four were earned, in 5 2/3 innings at Wrigley Field. He allowed seven hits and four of six runs in his last start against Miami. He was dominant in three starts against the Braves, allowing a total of 12 hits and three runs in 19 2/3 innings. All three runs took place in his second start of the season on April 9.
Saturday, July 24, 6:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Drew Smyly (16 GS, 84.0 IP, 20.5 K%, 8.3 BB%, 4.50 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 4.89 xFIP, 109 ERA-)
Drew Smyly will make his second start since Saturday’s All-Star break and will look to continue a strong streak. Smyly allowed three runs in the first inning on his last start against the Rays, but kept them there for the remainder of his outing. He allowed four hits, those three runs and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Smyly has allowed three runs or less in eight straight starts and in eleven of his last 12 overall. He’s faced the Phillies twice and allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs in 9 1/3 innings.
Vince Velasquez (19 G, 15 GS, 77.1 IP, 24.3 K%, 12.6 BB%, 5.00 ERA, 5.35 FIP, 4.92 xFIP, 122 ERA-)
Vince Velasquez will start for Philadelphia and is looking for a certain consistency even though he has just made one of the best starts of the season. After allowing 15 hits and 13 runs in just 8 1/3 innings combined against the Padres and Red Sox, Velasquez allowed just one hit in five scoreless innings against the Marlins. He faced Atlanta on May 8 and held them in check by allowing just two hits, three walks and a run in 5 1/3 innings.
Sunday, July 25, 1:05 p.m. ET (Bally Sports Southeast)
Touki Toussaint (1 GS, 6.2 IP, 19.2 K%, 7.7 BB%, 1.35 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 32 ERA-)
Touki Toussaint will make his second start of the season on Sunday and will look to build on a solid start. Toussaint had one of the best performances of his young career on Tuesday when he limited the Padres to just three hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and put out five strikes and attacked the strike zone, which he has struggled with in the past. If he can build on that performance on the road, then he can play a huge role for the Braves in the final two months of the season.
Aaron Nola (19 GS, 106.2 IP, 29.0 K%, 5.3 BB%, 4.64 ERA, 3.63 FIP, 3.42 xFIP, 113 ERA-)
Aaron Nola will make his second start after a stint on the COVID injured list. The Phillies rushed him to Tuesday’s start in New York where he allowed seven hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a pair of home runs and struck out five. Nola has faced the Braves three times this season, allowing 18 hits and 11 runs in just 15 2/3 innings.