Dan Uggla. Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Series Preview

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After struggling against the last place Chicago Cubs at home, the schedule gets much harder for the Phillies. They have to travel to Atlanta for a three-game series against the first place Braves.

The last time they met

The Braves took two out of three games (with the fourth game postponed due to rain). That series featured the memorable game in which Dom Brown hit a go-ahead home run, only for Dan Uggla to return the favor in the ninth inning. You may remember the reaction of a few Phillies fans:

What’s new with the Braves

Despite scoring fewer runs than the Phillies, the Braves are in first place in the National League East. Of course, being in first place of the uninspiring division isn’t all that impressive. It’s probably more impressive that Phillies are in last place.

The Braves’ first place status is mostly thanks to a pitching staff that boasts the 5th best team ERA in the majors. You know how it seems like every relief pitcher who comes the Phillies struggles? The opposite happens to every pitcher who joins the Braves.

Reason to hate the Braves

There are just so many, but most of them revolve around the fact that the Braves have apparently named themselves the official enforcers of baseball’s unwritten rules.

I thought that once Brian McCann was gone, the Braves would become more tolerable, but they’ve been as insufferable as ever.

Braves player who isn’t entirely horrible

Aaron Harang. Image Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Harang has been a decent pitcher throughout his 12-year career, but he’s never been what you’d consider a top-of-the-rotation starter. So naturally, he comes to the Braves and pitches like an All-Star.

Braves player who is horrible

I think just about every time the Phillies and Braves play each other, I use Dan Uggla for this section. And just about time they play, Uggla does something to kill the Phillies. So maybe I should say that Uggla is horrible – except when he plays the Phillies.

Even though he hasn’t been playing much lately (because he’s awful and all), I’m sure he’s good for at least a couple of homers in this series.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Cole Hamels (2-3) vs. Julio Teheran (6-4)

Back in April, Teheran shut down the Phillies offense in a 1-0 win. I realize this is not a particularly unique accomplishment this season, but it means that Cole Hamels can probably expect to receive a minimum of run support yet again.

Tuesday: Kyle Kendrick (2-6) vs. Ervin Santana (5-6)

Ervin Santana. Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, we should take it as a given that Kendrick is going to allow runs in the first inning. Let’s just hope he can continue his recent trend of pitching well after that.

After a hot start to the season, Santana has cooled off a bit. He was roughed up in his last start, giving up six runs in 6.1 innings against the Rockies.

Wednesday: Roberto Hernandez (2-5) vs. Aaron Harang (5-5)

Harang typically does not pitch deep into games. Normally this would be good for the Phillies, as it would theoretically allow them to do some damage against the Braves’ relievers. The only problem is that the Braves’ bullpen is good, and the Phillies’ typical lack of patient at bats often results in starters lasting longer than normal.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty safe bet that like in all but one of his starts this season, Hernandez will be out of the game by the seventh inning.

Prediction

I’m not feeling too optimistic about the team these days. Maybe the bats bust out in one of these games, but I think the more likely outcome is a sweep by the Braves.

 

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