Braves Preview: Atlanta seeks to clinch midweek series with Phillies

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves were the NL East's sole winner on Tuesday, winning a tightly-fought game against the Philadelphia Phillies to extend their division lead to 5.5 games.

Spencer Strider threw six very good innings of baseball, striking out nine batters and allowing just one earned run. Matt Olson and Austin Riley each homered in the win to continue the ridiculous offensive month the Braves have had.

Atlanta will have a chance to tie its season-best win streak of eight games on Wednesday night and continue to set the pace in the division with less than a month until we reach the All-Star Break.

What to watch for in Wednesday's game

AJ Smith-Shawver: Road Warrior?

Through two starts, the 20-year-old right-handed rookie looks like he belongs on a major league mound. He has looked completely composed and confident on the mound in his starts.

AJ Smith-Shawver has pitched at least five innings in his first two starts for the Braves, striking eight batters and allowing three earned runs between the two games. He made his debut on the road in a relief appearance at Arizona, but Wednesday will be his first start outside of Truist Park.

His first career road start coming against one of the Braves' division rivals doesn't get much bigger than that in the regular season. Not yet, at least.

Murphy Watch 2K23

Tuesday provided some good news regarding Sean Murphy's status after tweaking his hamstring last weekend against Colorado.

Murphy has been one of the best Braves not named Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2023, with an OPS north of .900 setting him on a course for his first career All-Star game. Having Murphy close to 100% before Atlanta visits the first-place Cincinnati Reds would be huge heading into a tough stretch of games to close out the first half.

Nola's no-good, very-bad 2023

The strikeouts are still coming in bunches, but Aaron Nola is not seeing the results he normally sees.

The Phillies ace has allowed runs to score in every start this year (albeit one was three unearned runs) and allowed home runs in every game but two. He's just five walks away from tying his entire walk total from 2022!

Atlanta has already seen Nola this season, tagging him for five earned runs and three home runs at Truist Park last month. The Braves' juggernaut offense has to be salivating at getting another crack at the struggling right-hander.

Braves (47-26) at Phillies (38-35)

When: 6:40 p.m. ET
Where: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
How to Watch: BSSO
How to Listen: 680 AM/93.7 FM The Fan