Article Written by Michael Doctorovitz
Originally Published on October 5, 2023
For the second straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies have swept the National League Wild Card round and will move on to face the Atlanta Braves.
Things looked a bit different in this year’s first round. There was no miracle comeback and the Phillies opened up the postseason at home with what most believe is the best home field advantage in baseball. It ended with the same result though, a two-game sweep and a matchup with the juggernaut Braves. Now the question is, can the Phillies take down Atlanta for a second straight season.
This season was different for Atlanta as well. Last year, likely NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. was coming off of an ACL tear, this year he put up historic numbers. Towards the end of the year last year, phenom Spencer Strider was dealing with injury that lingered into the NLDS matchup against the Phillies, this year he is a CY Young candidate.
The thing with Strider is his ability to throw strikes. He works a lot of 0-2 counts and after that it is troublesome for any hitter. To beat Strider, the Phillies will need to get on him early and often. If you let Strider get into a groove, then it is going to be a long night for the offense.
In his career, not including last year’s playoffs, Strider is 8-0 against the Phillies with 72 strikeouts and only 10 earned runs allowed in 47.1 innings pitched. The Phillies as a team this season were 5-8 against Atlanta and 4-3 on the road in Atlanta.
Ranger Suarez, who started game one against Atlanta last season, will be the likely starter on Saturday night for game one this time around. Suarez has started six games against Atlanta since the beginning of last season, not including playoffs. He has a 2-2 record with 11 earned runs in 34 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts and 14 walks.
The key to this series will be the long ball. If the Phillies can eliminate the long ball for Atlanta and force them to play small ball, they can win in four games. If Atlanta continues to mash home runs like they have all season, the Phillies will lose in four games. Either way, it is going to be a heavyweight fight that the Phillies are capable of winning.
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