After picking up a comfortable win in Philadelphia last night, the Braves are looking to continue to chip away at their divisional magic number as they take on the Phillies for the second of four games.
Last night’s game was huge because it almost confirms that the Braves have hit sort of a turning point against Aaron Nola after spending past seasons struggling against him a bit. It’s especially refreshing since the Braves have successfully knocked out Philadelphia’s best starter in the first game of a long series.
While I’m not going to say that there’s a huge gulf in quality between Nola and tonight’s starter Jason Vargas, there’s a pretty decent drop-off between Nola and Vargas. Vargas has been prone to giving up runs, as he hasn’t had a scoreless stint since July — which is when he was with the Mets. That’s to say that he’s always managed to give up at least two runs a game during his time in Philadelphia. Even in his last outing against the Reds, he tossed five shutout innings before giving up a two-run dinger and exiting the game.
Additionally, the Braves have faced Vargas earlier this season. In fact, it was all the way back in April. You know a game is old news when it happened before Brian Snitker came to his senses and moved Ronald Acuña Jr. to the top of the lineup. That didn’t stop the Braves from jumping all over Vargas for four runs and running him out of the game in the first inning with only one out recorded. We’re probably not going to see a repeat of that, but I’d honestly be shocked if the Braves struggled to score runs off of Vargas tonight.
Meanwhile, Max Fried is going to be back on the mound for the Braves and surely he’ll be looking to pick up exactly where he left off last week. He produced the best start of his season and it came at a great time — both for the Braves and Fried as a pitcher. His previous three starts had been underwhelming, so he definitely needed a start like what he had against Washington to give him a boost. Additionally, it came during a huge series that very likely could have been a divisional backbreaker. Fried came up big for the Braves in a big spot, and hopefully that’ll be a sign of things to come instead of just being a positive blip on the radar.
Tonight figures to be a big test for Fried, though. In addition to having the pressure of keeping up the good work from his last outing, he’ll also need to shake off his struggles against Philadelphia. The Phillies tagged Fried for five runs (four earned) back in July and that was after they got him for another five runs (all earned) way back in June. If Fried can finally defeat his red-clad boogeyman, then that could be big if the Braves can continue to score runs at the rate that they are becoming accustomed to.
If the pitching matchup continues to follow the trends from this season’s sample size, we could be in for a bit of a slugfest at Citizens Bank Park. Jason Vargas is prone to giving up runs and the Braves lit him up when they last saw him. Max Fried is coming off of a great start but the Phillies have hit him hard all season. If nothing changes, we will indeed see a bonanza of offense — hopefully, Fried can switch things up and the Braves can keep on mashing at the plate. If that happens, it’ll be another winning night for Atlanta.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, September 10, 7:05 p.m. ET
Location: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, MLB Network (out
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, Rock 100.5, Braves Radio Network