5 players in the NL East who could derail the Braves playoff chances

We have always been taught that one player cannot win or lose a contest for a team. It sure doesn’t feel that way when these guys play the Braves.

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages
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Bryce Harper
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages

Bryce Harper

2024 projections (ZiPS DC): .281 average, 30 HR, 97 RBI, and 13 stolen bases

Bryce Harper is entering his 13th season in Major League Baseball. That may be hard to believe as he is just 31 years young but that is the case. Injuries have done a number on Harper in the last few seasons. However, he has now found a home at first base and in the DH position which just may lead to more production. 

Ever since he made his MLB debut with the Washington Nationals, Harper has been a certified “Braves killer.” In 183 games against Atlanta, Harper is a .263 hitter with 44 HR, 106 RBI, and 21 stolen bases. Unfortunately, we can expect more of the same from Harper in 2024. 

Atlanta fans have never really had a lot of love for Harper as their relationship didn't start off on a good note. Things have slowly gotten better as he has matured as a person and player but the boos will still rain down from Truist Park when he steps to the plate. Things will likely be a little tense in 2024 as Orlando Arcia's comments about Harper's baserunning blunder during the NLDS still linger.

Zack Wheeler

2024 projections Zips DC: (12-8), 3.61 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 5.1 fWAR

Wheeler is the third and final Philadelphia Phillie on this list. He seems to have found his stride on the mound in 2023 going 13-6 with a 3.61 ERA last season, finishing 6th in the Cy Young Award voting for the NL. 

Every time Wheeler faces the Braves he has some extra motivation as he is from the heart of Braves country (Smyrna, GA). He has faced the Braves 27 times in his career. He is 12-7 with a 3.18 ERA and Braves’ hitters have a combined average of .238 against Wheeler. We can keep our fingers crossed that the Braves miss him in a series or two against Philadelphia but that won’t be likely.