Braves' 2023 playoff run deliciously begins with revenge opportunity vs Phillies

The Braves winning their sixth straight division title earned them a bye week during the first round of the MLB playoffs. Considering how the 2022 season ended for Atlanta, there's no one else they could have hoped to face than a certain division rival.
Atlanta Braves Workouts
Atlanta Braves Workouts / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves finally have an opponent for the NLDS and it's against the team that Braves fans likely were hoping to face most. It will be a long-awaited rematch with hopes that the Braves are able to exercise some demons due to an early exit from the 2022 NLDS.

Atlanta will face off with their division rival, the Philadelphia Phillies, who recently jumped all over the Marlins in the Wild Card series. Philadelphia's pitching staff limited Miami's offense to just two runs over the two-game sweep. 

The Braves would have been happy to face anyone in the playoffs, as they know they have a team capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the league. However, the Phillies are the one team they'd get the most satisfaction from beating in the NLDS.

Vaughn Grissom
Patrick Smith/GettyImages

A Chance For Redemption

It’s been a little over a year since the Braves put together a 100-win season and grabbed a 5th consecutive NL East pennant. All for the Phillies to clobber the Braes for 24 runs on 36 hits as they won the series 3-1. This sent the Braves home early during their pursuit for a second-consecutive World Series title. 

While Atlanta experienced an early exit, the Phillies proceeded to bully the Padres to win their first NL pennant since 2009. They fell short in a six-game World Series to the Houston Astros despite jumping out to a 2-1 series lead. However, they made a statement for the rest of the National League by slugging their way within arms reach of a world championship. 

The Phillies reloaded for another run in 2023 as they signed shortstop Trea Turner in the off-season. The Braves countered that move by adding Sean Murphy to their roster to bolster an already solid catching core.

Atlanta took off before the dog days of summer, finishing two wins shy of a franchise record while winning the NL East for the sixth straight season. The rest of the Eastern Division really never stood a chance against the 2023 Braves.

The Phillies surged later in the year to lock up a wild card spot for the second year in a row. The Braves were the better regular-season team and won the season series between the two teams 8-5. However, that doesn’t matter now as anything can happen in the playoffs. 

To be the best, you have to beat the best. Until Atlanta can beat the Phillies in the NLDS, the NL runs through Philadelphia. 

This postseason run for the Braves now hinges on doing something no other team has done in franchise history: beat the Philadelphia Phillies in a postseason series. Yes, they’ve only met twice, but the weight of both of those losses (1993 NLCS, 2022 NLDS) is a significant blow to one dynasty that never reached its full potential and another that’s still looking to fully bloom. 

Rhys Hoskins
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Sure, Atlanta could’ve played anyone in the 2023 NLDS but for someone like Spencer Strider, a chance for redemption after getting chased by the powerful Phillies offense during the 2022 NLDS is too good to pass up.

This moment has been continually a point Phillies fans go back to when both teams face off. I'm sure it's something that has stayed with Spencer Strider since it happened. He likely has been craving the chance to exercise the demons of that horrific start.

Ronald Acuna Jr.
Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

An MVP would be nice for Ronald Acuña Jr. but helping your team vanquish a growing postseason disappointment? That's an incredible opportunity. We all know how popular Acuña is in Philly now. They just LOVE him.

Acuña has been chomping at the bit to return to the MLB playoffs as he missed the World Series run back in 2021 due to his knee injury.

This type of series is the reason GM Alex Anthopoulos traded for stars like Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, who are both searching for their first signature postseason moment as members of the Atlanta Braves. 

It’s not just personal in the Braves dugout. For three of the last six seasons, the Phillies have watched the Braves celebrate from their side of the field, clinching the NL East crown against them time after time. They were there from the start of 2018 to most recently during September’s division-clinching win in Philadelphia. 

One of the NL East’s premier rivalries is front-and-center again and not the one everyone expected to see at the beginning of the season. The Mets were expected to rival the Braves in 2023 for the division title.

This year's NLDS is a chance for Brian Snitker and his team to prove those 104 wins and a record-breaking season meant something. He will want this season to provide a more lasting impact than just another division banner over the wall in right field.

For that impact to be fully felt by this Atlanta Braves team, it needed to be the Philadelphia Phillies greeting them in the NLDS.