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What to watch for in Tuesday night’s Braves-Phillies game

Three losses in a row; three wins for Nola

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

A day after the Braves lost due to a late three-run homer, let’s talk about some threes that may or may not happen in this game.

Three losses in a row?

The Braves have lost twice in a row 11 different times this season... but they’ve yet to have a single three-game skid. This is especially remarkable since they started both of their last full seasons with losing streaks of at least three games. In fact, you have to go back to 1947 to find a Braves team that didn’t have their first three-game losing streak until July — that team, though, had only played 67 games by the time their three-game skid rolled around, due to the schedule in those days loading games into the summer. Want to go back even further? Well, the 1894 Boston Beaneaters didn’t lose their third game in a row until July 17, but that comes with an asterisk since the third game they lost was a forfeit.

To finally find a franchise year when a Braves-predecessor team avoided losing three games until July 28 or later, you have to go to 1884, when the Beaneaters finally lost three in a row on August 11, dropping them to... 50-23. (The schedule didn’t even include April back then.)

So, basically, this is already the longest the team has avoided losing three in a row if you make any kind of reasonable adjustment for quantity of games played.

Want to know something funny, though? Just like how both of the team’s most-recent 14-game winning streaks were snapped in 1-0 losses to really bad teams where the only run scored on a non-hit outcome, both the 1947 and 1894 teams discussed above that their first three-game losing streaks in July? Both of those suffered that third loss in Philadelphia. (The 1884 team, though, lost to the Providence Grays.)

So, if the Braves lose today, at least they’ll be carrying on this weird pseudo-tradition.

Three losses to Nola?

The Braves won’t have an easy path to not losing three in a row tonight, because Aaron Nola is fifth in MLB in fWAR, and both his FIP and xFIP are under 3.00.

Here’s a funny thing about Nola, though. In his career, he’s been somewhat worse against the Braves: 3.35 FIP and 3.33 xFIP career, both at 3.91 against the Braves. Season-by-season, though, he’s struggled to help the Phillies win three times over Atlanta.

  • In 2015, Nola faced the Braves three times and dominated them three times... but Julio Teheran outmatched him in the third game and the Braves walked off, 2-1.
  • Nola was only okay against the Braves in 2016, but beat them in both games. Yet, the schedule prevented him from facing (and beating) Atlanta again.
  • Nola again dominated the Braves in 2017, but only faced them twice.
  • In 2018, Nola faced the Braves a whopping five times, and again, was very good. The Braves beat him twice in April (one thanks to that Nick Markakis walkoff homer), and Nola had a chance to win the other three, especially since two of those games came after the Braves clinched the division. But, he (in)famously lost the hangover backups game to the Braves by a 2-1 score.
  • In 2019, Nola got six tries to help the Phillies beat the Braves three times in his starts, and it finally happened. Weirdly enough, 2019 was the year that Nola himself took a step back, and he was also quite bad against the Braves, with a collective 5.24 FIP / 4.87 xFIP against Atlanta. Yet, the Phillies won each of his first four starts against the Braves that year, before losing the last two.
  • The Phillies split two Nola starts with the Braves in 2020.
  • Last year, Nola again had a chance to win three (out of five games), but was again thwarted late in the season in a crucial series, as the Braves eventually romped to a 7-2 win.

So, that brings us to this year. Nola’s faced the Braves twice and dominated them twice, and the Phillies have won twice. I guess it’s not as dramatic as “the Phillies have never won three Nola starts in the same season against the Braves,” since they already have, in 2019. But in most years, things have happened to prevent it. Will that happen tonight?

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