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Phillies heating up at the right time as Braves rematch approaches

Can the Braves pitching staff keep the Phillies high-priced lineup in check?

MLB: Wildcard-Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies will do battle once again in the NLDS, a year after the Phillies upset the 101 win Braves last year. After a competitive first two games, the Phillies overwhelmed the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, feeding off the energy of a raucous Philadelphia crowd. It will be crucial to get the job done and take both games in Atlanta in order to avoid a repeat. To do that, the Braves pitching staff needs to contain an expensive Phillies lineup, filled with household names.

Braves record vs. Philadelphia in 2023: 8-5

Phillies lineup rankings:

BA: .256 (9th)

OBP: .327 (9th)

SLG: .438 (5th)

wRC+: 105 (10th)

HR: 220 (8th)

SB: 141 (7th)

K%: 23.9% (20th)

BB%: 8.7% (16th)

vs. LHP: 108 wRC+ (11th)

vs. RHP: 104 wRC+ (10th)

A closer look at the Phillies lineup:

The numbers would tell us that the Phillies are a solidly above average, but not elite offense, but they have been closer to elite over the past couple of months. Since August 1st, the Phillies have a 121 wRC+, which is fifth in baseball over that time. This coincides with some of their star players heating up.

Trea Turner got particularly hot in August and September, posting a 179 wRC+ in August and a 150 wRC+ in September. On August 4th, his season wRC+ sat at a paltry 77, but those two big months gave him a 108 wRC+ for the season, a mark that still undersells his true talent level.

He usually hits second behind Kyle Schwarber, who also had an unusual season. Schwarber had a 119 wRC+, despite only hitting .197 on the season thanks to his 47 home runs and .343 on-base percentage which is buoyed by his 17.5 walk rate. Alec Bohm hit in the three hole in the two games against the Marlins, which is a surprise given the hitters behind him in the order, but Bohm is a solid bat. Bryce Harper has been hitting in the in the cleanup spot. Harper is yet another Phillies player who has had an interesting season. After coming back from Tommy John Surgery in May, Harper really struggled to find his power stroke, only hitting three home runs in 210 at bats prior to the All-Star Break. However, he has rediscovered his power in August and September, clubbing 16 of his 21 home runs over the last two months of the season.

The top seven in the Phillies lineup are all threats, with J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos and Bryson Stott hitting after Harper. All three have been above-average hitters this season, with Realmuto and Stott both playing a big part in the Phillies dismantling of the Marlins. Youngsters Christian Pache and Johan Rojas filled out the lineup against the Marlins, but Miami had a lefty starter in both games. With a right hander on the mound, expect Brandon Marsh to be in the lineup.

X-factor: Trea Turner

Trea Turner, the Phillies most recent big money addition will be a pivotal player in this series. Turner was dreadful for much of the season, but turned it around over the last two months of the season. If that Trea Turner is the one that shows up in October, it lengthens the Phillies lineup and adds another huge threat. The Phillies have an impressive lineup on paper, but it was rare that all of their stars were clicking at the same time. If Turner’s struggles return, it makes life much easier for the Braves pitching staff.

Closing thoughts

While the Phillies lineup did not perform as well as the Braves this year, they are still star-studded and deep. With Harper and Turner peaking at the right time, this Phillies lineup will be a handful. When the Phillies made their run last year, they snuck up on teams, getting hot at the right time, but the league is well aware of them this time around, and nobody will be overlooking them. Despite getting the number one seed, the Braves have a much tougher matchup on paper than the Dodgers, but they will have revenge on their minds after losing to the Phillies last year. This should be a fun, emotional series that will be a great opportunity for the Braves to slay their demons.

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