After dropping a series to one of the better teams in Major League Baseball this season — the Toronto Blue Jays — the Atlanta Braves get a chance to battle it out with the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-game set at Turner Field. While a game between the two worst teams in baseball normally isn't very interesting, this series could prove crucial in the race for the first overall pick of next year's draft.
Not only do the Braves (57-90) and Phillies (56-91) have the worst records in the Majors — with a slight edge to Philly — the teams also enter tonight with the worst run differentials in the game. Not a huge surprise. Atlanta has allowed 196 more runs than they have scored this season, while Philadelphia again takes a slight edge by allowing 201 more runs than they have scored.
This really is a series of "who is worse?" at this point, sad as that is to type. We've been here for a while though, so there's not sense in moaning over it.
As far as pitching matchups go, it's actually not terrible for the Braves, with Williams Perez and Julio Teheran both trending in the right direction of late.
Perez gets the start Friday against Adam Morgan, who has posted a 6.53 ERA over his past four starts. Perez on the other hand has had a solid past two games, allowing two runs through seven innings against the Phillies and then three runs in six innings against the Mets. While he hasn't looked like August Perez, he's still given up a fair amount of hits and the walks also remain a concern.
During game two we'll see Ryan Weber on the mound for the third time with the Braves, as he takes on Jerad Eickhoff. While the 25-year-old Weber isn't likely to be a starter at this level, he's done well in his first two games, throwing at least six innings in both outings and throwing 63 percent of his pitches for strikes. Eickhoff, though, is looking to crack the Phillies rotation to start the 2016 season and is coming off of his best MLB start, where he struck out a career-best eight batters against the Cubs.
Our Sunday matchup is probably the most interesting, as Julio Teheran and Aaron Nola are the names with the most staying power of this eclectic group of arms.
Teheran has posted a 3.54 ERA since the start of August (nine starts) while striking out 7.71 batters per nine innings and walking 2.89 per nine innings through that period. His past few games have seen a high walk totals, but it certainly seems like the good Teheran is back, even if we are still waiting on the 2014 All-Star version. Meanwhile Nola has performed well and showed glimpses of why the Phillies drafted him No. 7 overall in the 2014 draft. He's had a few rough outings here of late (he allowed six earned runs to the Mets and Nationals in his past three starts), but he's shown good fastball command to couple with a solid curve.
I should also probably note that both Ryan Howard and Maikel Franco are dealing with injuries at this point and are unlikely to see the field during this series. Franco has been one of the few competent Philadelphia bats this season, and is second in RBI despite playing just 77 games. That speaks to their offensive issues, but of course the Braves have scored the fewest runs in baseball, so does it really matter?