The Atlanta Braves led the NL East from Opening Day until the end of the season. They have been head and shoulders above any other team in baseball. For the first time in 2023, Atlanta is feeling pressure.
Thursday night is win or go home for the World Series favorites. Here are three reasons why they will force a game five and two reasons why their season will end with a 3-1 series loss to their division rivals.
3 Reasons Why Braves Will Force Game 5
1. Spencer Strider Wants Revenge
Spencer Strider has some memories at Citizens Bank Park he would like to erase. In 2022, Strider allowed five earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched and took the loss in game three of the NLDS. The Braves went on to lose the series the next game.
Atlanta is in jepoardy of losing the 2023 NLDS to the Phillies 3-1 on Thursday. Spencer Strider is not ready for that to happen. After putting himself in conversation for the National League Cy Young Award during the regular season, Strider has a new level of confidence and is ready for this big moment.
Look for Strider to dig deep and pitch well against a team he dominants in regular season play. Excluding postseason appearances, Spencer Strider is 8-0 with a 1.90 ERA and 72 strikeouts in just 47.1 innings pitched.
2. Offense is Almost There
Despite being shut out in game one of the series and losing 10-2 in game three, the Braves offense is starting to show signs they will start clicking again. Atlanta rallied back late in game two to steal a game from the Phillies. On Wednesday, Atlanta may have only pushed across two runs but they were closer to crooked numbers than most realize.
The Braves in game three left 11 runners on base and was only 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Despite not being able to come up with clutch hits, Atlanta put up double digits in the hit column. The Braves offense scattered 10 hits in their deflating loss on Wednesday, only one less than the Phillies.
The difference in game three was the fact that 6 of the Phillies 11 hits left the ball park and one of those was a three run blast from Bryce Harper in the Philadelphia 6 run 3rd inning.
3. Phillies Bullpen Day
The Braves have one of their aces in Spencer Strider on the bump in a must-win game. Of course the Phillies would love to avoid traveling back to Atlanta for a game five but they know they have some wiggle room on Thursday night. This plays in favor of the Braves.
Philadelphia has yet to name a starter for game four. The suspicion is that Rob Thompson will turn to a bullpen game and hope the Phillies offense can propel them into the NLCS. It would not be surpirsing at all if it is late Thursday afternoon before the Phillies starter is announced to avoid giving the Braves time to read scouting reports.