The day has come. Some of you may have had these dates circled on your calendar for at least a month, now. Some of you are probably more prescient and had this date circled before Opening Day. Either way, the day has arrived where the Braves and the Phillies are starting what figures to be a three-game series that will likely decide who’s going to win the NL East in 2021.
Both teams are treating this series as such, based on the pitching matchups alone. The Braves are sending Charlie Morton to the mound for this first game of the series. As far as Morton goes against these Phillies, results have been up-and-down all season. All the way back on April 3 in Philadelphia, the Phillies got Morton for three runs over five innings. However, Morton paid them back six days later in Cobb County as he held them to just one run over six innings.
Nearly a month later, Morton’s worst start of the season came at home against Philadelphia as he got ran from the game in the first inning after giving up a still-absurd-to-think-about six unearned runs. Things calmed down considerably when Morton faced the Phillies again on July 22, which is when he went six and gave up two runs in a very solid start. So aside from a rough beginning and some horrid luck in another start, Morton has mostly done fine against the Phillies this season. Hopefully all the bad luck is out of his system for tonight’s start and we see the version of Morton that has been solid and stable during the second half of this season.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are going with their ace right out of the gate. Zack Wheeler is getting the ball for tonight’s start and the Braves have had an incredibly tough time dealing with him this season. Just as Charlie Morton has seen the Phillies four times, Wheeler has seen the Braves four times and three of those instances resulted in Wheeler being completely dominant. On April 3, he shut the Braves out and gave up only one hit over seven innings while striking out 10. On June 10, he did give up four hits, but he went an extra inning compared to April 3, shut out the Braves for a second time and struck out 12 that night. On July 23, he actually gave up a run but he still completely befuddled the Braves over seven innings.
The only game where the Braves actually got to him was on April 9 — that night went well for Morton and it went relatively poorly for Wheeler. He didn’t make it through the fifth inning and ended with three earned runs to his name. It’s definitely possible to get to Wheeler, but this is also a guy whose two worst starts happened within a two-week span in April. This is a guy who’s going to be receiving a healthy amount of consideration for the NL Cy Young, so the Braves are likely going to have a major fight on their hands tonight.
If both Charlie Morton and Zack Wheeler are on their respective games tonight, then this could be an extremely nervy contest and one that could maybe end up seeing the bullpen playing a key role once we enter that phase. Morton just has to avoid falling into a pit like he did earlier this season and the Braves have to figure out a way to get to Wheeler again. Either way, this is probably going to be a very tough game for both teams. This will probably be really exciting and fun to watch for neutral observers. If you’ve got a rooting interest, fasten your seatbelts.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, September 28, 7:20 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park, Atlanta, GA
TV: Bally Sports South, FS1
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network