The Atlanta Braves will look to tie the series today against the Philadelphia Phillies. In game one, the Braves left 7 on base and were 0-5 with runners in scoring position. While the Braves were shut out for the first time at home since 2021, they will seek to bounce back and find their timing in the box.
One positive to take away from that loss, the batters got to the bullpen early as the Phillies surprisingly took out Suarez in the fourth inning. It is doubtful that the Phillies will take out Zack Wheeler that early in the match but if the Braves can rally some runs, they have already seen many of the pitchers throughout the year.
Atlanta will send out Max Fried to go against Wheeler. Fried has struggled over his career against Philadelphia, going 2-4 in 12 starts. That said, his last two outings have been excellent, giving up only one run each time. That said, Fried has been one of the best pitchers in the MLB this season, and it will be crucial for him to keep challenging the zone and preventing walks.
Pitching Matchup: Braves vs. Phillies
While Fried has historically struggled against the Phillies, Atlanta can expect him to deal in what could be considered a must-win game. The lefty has only pitched once this season against Philadelphia, earning a no-decision and allowing just one run.
The Braves would go on to win that game and tend to win nearly all games with Fried on the mound. Max has a 2.55 ERA with an 8-1 record on the season and will attempt to shift his playoff narrative. Last year, he lost his only playoff match but went 2-2 in the 2021 World Series run. Fried pitched a great game to lead the Braves to a World Series title in the 6th game of that series.
When watching Fried, expect a mid-90s four-seam fastball mixed with a heavy sinking curveball. The effective combination will also showcase a mid-80s slider and change with a low-90s sinker. Fried has seen a lot of success this year, pounding the zone with his fastball to keep hitters honest. The four-seam command sets up a lethal slider that keeps hitters guessing.
The Phillies will rely on Zack Wheeler, who tends to see success against Atlanta. The ten-year ace has gone 12-7 with an ERA of 3.18 when facing the Braves. While he has a winning record, he is still susceptible to being knocked around.
On September 12th, he gave up six earned runs over five innings. That said, he will be the most challenging match for the divisional series, owning a 13-6 record and a 3.61 ERA on the season.
Wheeler also relies on a four-seam/slider combination, hovering in the mid-90s and upper-80s, respectively. The Philly pitcher will also mix in a 95 mph sinker and 82 mph curve, along with the very occasional changeup. The combination is relatively similar to Fried but he occasionally struggles with control as his pitches have a significant sweep.
Braves Hitters to Watch
Atlanta can expect a hungry lineup looking to redeem itself. The best historical matchup against Wheeler is Travis d'Arnaud. The catcher is hitting .381 over 21 at-bats, which could be a needed boost to get pressure on bases. Over his stretch vs. Wheeler, he has four RBIs and a homer. It will be interesting to see his playing time in the lineup and if he can boost some ABC ball throughout the order.
Ronald Acuña Jr. is always a must-watch when in the batter's box. Even with a challenging game, Ronald must adjust and stay patient for the right pitches. He has seen Wheeler the second most on the team behind Ozuna and it will be vital for him to cause stress with his running capabilities.
How to Watch Braves vs. Phillies - 10/9/23
Time/Location: 6:07 PM EST at Truist Park in Atlanta, GA
Streaming: Max (subscription required)
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan