3 Braves-Phillies storylines that will make opening series a must-watch for MLB fans

Two of baseball's biggest rivals will face off on Friday afternoon in Philadelphia.

MLB Opening Day Postponed Due To Coronavirus
MLB Opening Day Postponed Due To Coronavirus / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies have been rivals for a very long time. There is very little love between each fanbase but that's why any series between the two is often entertaining.

Major League Baseball fans will be treated to that rivalry on Friday afternoon from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Braves played well against Philly during the regular season but experienced a bit of deja vu in the 2023 playoffs.

Atlanta was eliminated from the playoffs in two consecutive seasons by the Phillies. That has led to a lot of folks believing that the Braves aren't able to beat Philadelphia when it matters most. Unfortunately, this mirrors how the Braves used to struggle to beat the Dodgers in the postseason.

This is just one motivating factor for the Braves and why fans do not want to miss this series between the two sides. It will be one of the most entertaining series from opening weekend of the 2024 season.

Braves-Phillies storylines that make opening series a must-watch for MLB fans

Spencer Strider's bid for revenge

Philadelphia fans have enjoyed tormenting the Atlanta ace online every year since the infamous bat slam incident happened during the 2022 NLDS. They seem to believe they own Spencer Strider whenever the two foes face off.

While it's fair to say they have won the games Strider has started in the 2022 and 2023 postseasons respectively, that isn't the case. Strider is incredibly good against Philly in the regular season and that likely will not change on Friday as he looks to exact revenge on the team that bounced the Braves two years in a row.

The Braves' historic offense disappeared in the playoffs last year and didn't provide Strider any run support despite him pitching his heart out in both games against Philly in the 2023 NLDS. This talk of "owning" Strider will only motivate the flamethrowing starter to prove everyone wrong.

He is a man on a mission in 2024 as his Spring numbers indicate. Strider owned a 0.79 ERA through 22.2 innings pitched with eight walks and 35 strikeouts. The addition of a curveball to his arsenal has only made the talented right-hander even more deadly.

2024 could be the year Spencer Strider earns his first-ever National League Cy Young Award.

JT Realmuto is tired of the Braves dominance in the NL East

Recently, Phillies catcher JT Realmuto expressed in an interview how tired he has gotten of the Braves taking the National League East crown for the last six years. Atlanta is making a push for a seventh consecutive division title in 2024.

WInning your division is an important goal to have but it does seem a little odd of Realmuto to be bothered by that considering Philly has beaten Atlanta when it matters most. However, this desire to win the division will fuel Philadelphia during the first series of the 2024 season.

Everyone knows you can't win a division title during the first month of the season but it is great to get things started on the right foot. Taking the first series of the season would be a signal to the Braves and the rest of Major League Baseball that the Phillies aren't playing around this year.

Philly is also still likely carrying a chip on their shoulder from the Orlando Arcia and Bryce Harper controversy from last year's NLDS. Arcia was heard taunting Harper in the clubhouse after the Phillies first baseman was doubled off at first thanks to an incredible play from Braves' center fielder Michael Harris II.

Word got out about Arcia saying "atta boy" to his teammates after the game as a jeer toward Harper. That obviously made its rounds in the Philly clubhouse and Harper absolutely went off on the Braves and stared Arcia down on the basepath. While Philly took out the Braves soon after that, this fuel will likely remain heading into opening weekend.

Two of baseball's best teams make for the perfect series

Friday's opening game between the two bitter rivals could be a slugfest or a pitcher's duel. Zach Wheeler has always pitched very well against the Braves and that likely won't change on Friday but that doesn't mean the high-powered Atlanta offense can't tag him for a few runs quickly.

Wheeler also pitches fairly well at Citizens Bank with a 2.78 ERA over 381.1 innings pitched there in his career with 391 strikeouts. Opponents have batted just .211 against him there as well.

The same can be said for Spencer Strider. He could very well go out there and strike out 10+ or even flirt with a no-hitter. Spencer is 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA in eight regular-season games against Philadelphia, including three of those wins at Citizens Bank Park. His ERA when starting those three games in Philly sits at 1.42, However, Philly has a talented offense as well and could explode at any moment as we witnessed in the postseason.

We all know what the Atlanta Braves did offensively in 2023. They tied the MLB home run record and broke tons of franchise records but they fell short of their goal of winning the World Series. That is going to motivate them to prove everyone wrong and come out swinging against the Phillies this weekend.

Winning the first series of the year helps set the stage for the Braves in 2024 to make that dream a reality. They know that they have the right personnel in place to make this happen and won't want to waste the opportunity on such a big stage.

Watching two bitter rivals duke it out is one of the best things about professional sports and the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies provide one of baseball's best rivalries. This weekend's opening series is an event fans can't afford to miss.

First pitch from Citizens Bank Park takes place at 3:05 PM EST. Let's go Braves!

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