Starting tonight, the 8-6 Braves will host the 9-5 Phillies for their second series in three weeks. The two emerging teams have both played solid baseball since their first meeting, where a Peter Bourjos slide kept the Braves from sweeping the series.
Despite a catastrophic bullpen implosion on Saturday afternoon, the Braves have played far better this season than many expected. After Sunday’s game was cancelled on account of inclement weather, the Braves closed the door on a 4-4 road trip against Colorado, Washington, and Chicago - three very good teams. The impromptu off-day hopefully allowed the bullpen to not only recover physically, but also to re-focus mentally.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have been facing sub-par competition over their last series — Cincinnati (2-13) and Tampa Bay (3-12) — so their six-game win streak might be an illusion. During this stretch, they have overtaken second place in the NL East (by one game over the Braves), and sit three games behind the division-leading Mets (12-2). It doesn’t appear that Gabe Kapler has been revisiting his avant-garde management techniques quite as frequently since the initial series at SunTrust Park, so he might have finally found his groove in the dugout.
Tonight’s matchup will be a rematch of Opening Day, where Julio Teheran faced off against Aaron Nola. The 6th inning was the end of the line for both pitchers that day, for their own respective reasons. Teheran mostly looked solid, allowing two runs over 5⅔ innings, but the bullpen allowed two inherited base runners to score and inflated Julio’s line a bit.
Despite being on cruise control, Nola was the victim of Kapler’s aforementioned over-managing, and was pulled after 68 low-stress pitches over 5⅓ scoreless innings. He had a front row seat for an eight-run Braves rally, capped off by a Nick Markakis walk-off home run.
It’s always fun to watch two young, dynamic teams face each other, especially division rivals, so this series has all the ingredients for must-see-TV.
Time/Date: Monday, April 16, 7:35 PM ET
Venue: SunTrust Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast
Radio: 680 AM/93.7 FM, WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network