The Philadelphia Phillies started their 2021 season with a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves — making it six wins in their last seven games overall against the winner of the last three National League East division titles.
With momentum shifting in favor of the Phillies, could this be the year that they finally top the Braves in the standings?
The Braves have dominated the Phillies since they last won the NL East in 2011.
Spanning the last nine seasons, the Braves have won the season series six times against the Phillies. Last year ended in a 5-5 split, while two other seasons during this stretch finished in favor of the Phils.
The Braves have also finished ahead of the Phillies in the division standings in eight of the nine seasons, with the exception being 2016 — when Philadelphia finished 2 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta, albeit in fourth place.
The first three games of the 2021 season marked the first Phillies sweep of the Braves since the 2019 opening series. The Phillies went on to win the season series 10-9, but finished 16 games back in the division.
With the postseason field being reduced back to the three division winners and two Wild Cards, a finish of first or second in the division would likely be necessary to reach Red October. The National League East is arguably the most competitive division, so being able to beat a talented Braves squad will be crucial for the Phillies.
While Atlanta has been the dominant team for a while, recent games have looked different. This weekend, the Phillies will have a chance to continue this momentum.