Sep 17, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA;
Atlanta fans wear bags during a game against Toronto at Turner Field earlier this week.
(Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)
The battle for the top pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft moves into the spotlight this weekend as the Phillies head south to take on the Braves in Atlanta. It’s also the beginning of the Phils’ final 2015 road trip, a 9-game, 10-day swing that continues in Miami and Washington next week.
The Phillies currently sit at the bottom of the overall MLB standings with a 56-91 record, while the Braves are at 57-90, leaving them a game and a half behind the Phils in that “race” to the bottom headed into this weekend showdown.
Neither team has been very competitive in any way for a long time. The Phillies have lost 17 of their last 23 games, and haven’t won a series since late August. The Braves have been even worse. Imagine that being possible, Phils’ fans. But the Braves have now lost 30 of their last 36 games.
Since early August, Atlanta has won just one series. That was against the Phillies earlier this month when the Braves took 2 of 3 games at Citizens Bank Park. In the overall head-to-head series this season, the two teams have split their 16 games evenly.
Atlanta’s statistical offensive leader is 26-year old 1st baseman Freddie Freeman, who has 16 home runs. However, since returning from a 6-week stay on the DL from mid-June to late July, Freeman has just 4 homers and 15 RBi in 38 games with a .229 batting average and .351 slugging percentage.
Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski was having a nice season, but has lost playing time during September as the Braves get a long look at 23-year old catcher Christian Bethancourt. The rookie backstop has just a .204/.230/.293 slash line in 152 plate appearances.
If you enjoy defense, you’re going to like watching Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The 25-year old is quite simply the best in the business at his position, and is well on his way to a 3rd consecutive National League Gold Glove award.
For their part, the Phillies have pretty much stopped hitting over the last two weeks. The club has scored 39 runs over the last dozen games in that stretch, but 21 of those came in one three game stretch. With their only consistent power threat, Ryan Howard, now out of the lineup for what is likely to be the rest of the season, runs won’t be coming any easier.
With the Phillies moving to a 6-man starting rotation, and the likely imminent shutdown for the season of outstanding rookie Aaron Nola, scheduled for now to go on Sunday, we’ll begin the series preview as usual with a look at the likely pitching matchups.
Next: PHILLIES-BRAVES PITCHING MATCHUPS