The Philadelphia Phillies visit the Atlanta Braves for a long four game weekend series, and Atlanta’s 3rd baseman could be a roadblock to success.
The Phillies are currently sitting in fourth place of the National League East at nine games under .500 after Thursday night’s win over the Braves as we quickly approach August.
The only club beneath them in the division are the dreadful Atlanta Braves sitting 32 (yes…THIRTY-TWO) games under the .500 mark. However, the Phillies entered Turner Field without finding an offensive groove and being outscored 16-1 in their final two games in Miami.
While the Marlins boasted a much more competent offense than the Braves, the Phillies barely boast an offense themselves. Though not the case in the opener, overall this may be the type of series in which the team who scores one or two runs in the first few innings takes the game.
So far in my Phillies “Opposition Roadblock” series during two earlier meetings between the clubs, I highlighted the only two meaningful Braves hitters that there are: Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis.
Before the end of the season rolls around, I am going to run out of players to talk about in Atlanta’s hot sun. I had to reach deep into my pockets for this weekend’s highlighted player.
After defecting from Cuba in 2011, Adonis Garcia’s trek to big league consistency with the Braves was bumpy to say the least.
He spent some time in the Venezuelan Winter League for a season to showcase himself. He had a decent run, but was soon declared ineligible to sign with a team in MLB as a result of fraudulent residency paperwork.
When he was able to establish a residency in Venezuela in 2012, Garcia signed with the Yankees. After a three-year run with the organization, the Yanks parted ways with the 5’9″ outfielder.
Within days of his release, the Atlanta Braves came calling. The Braves had floated him between outfield and third base for the majority of his tenure, but after sending him down to AAA for a short time this season, they are using him full-time at third base.
The 31-year old does not have 300 at bats in 2016, although he will reach it over the next four days. He has only played in 78 of 101 games this season.
He is slashing .266/.302/.392 on the season with eight homers, 30 RBI, and 52 runs. He has already eclipsed his RBI mark for last season, and will more than likely hit three more dingers to surpass last season’s total of ten. However, besides beating his own personal bests, Garcia is posting incredibly pedestrian numbers overall.
So why would I pick him as a “roadblock” to Phillies success this weekend?
One of the reasons I already mentioned is that the Braves do not really have a multitude of choices for me, and I simply didn’t want to repeat. Of course, both Freeman and Markakis will remain serious roadblocks.
Secondly, he has been red-hot as of late. In his last 15 games prior to last night, Garcia was mashing .361/.391/.590 with three of his eight homers. He has hit safely in his last nine games (10/11 since the All-Star Break), five of which he supplied multi-hit performances.
Last night, Garcia went 2-4 with a pair of RBI on a 5th inning single and a 6th inning double while filling the pivotal 5-spot in the Atlanta batting order behind Freeman and Markakis.
Getting him out has not been the most difficult task for Phillies pitching this season. I have highlighted some very talented hitters throughout the course of 2016, but when a player is hot and seeing the ball well, throw the numbers out the window.
The right-hander is pull happy, but has shown the ability to hit the ball to the right side, so shifting him may be out of the question.
Vincent Velasquez, Jeremy Hellickson (maybe), and Jerad Eickhoff should have considerable success against Garcia in the three remaining games. He is only hitting .260 against righties with a .292 on-base percentage this season.
He has been able to find his power against right-handed pitching, however, blasting seven of his eight bombs against them, so the righties will need to keep the ball down.
Garcia loves to get extended, so the Phils will be best served to keep the ball in on him when they are trying to locate fastballs. However, they may be able to get him with off speed pitches that are low in the zone. He has a tendency to get out in front and roll over on pitches, and he does not have the wheels to beat out slow rollers.
As the Phillies look to get back on track, the Braves are the right team to help them. I mean, there need be no further proof than my choice of roadblock being Adonis “The Greek God” Garcia.