Ronald Acuña Jr.’s return from injury spells trouble for Phillies pitching

Sep 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) reacts after allowing a home run to Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) during the first inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) reacts after allowing a home run to Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) during the first inning at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Ronald Acuña Jr. is back to torment Phillies pitchers after ACL tear

After a long absence, one of the most fearsome hitters in Major League Baseball is back, and he’s bad news for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Atlanta Braves have finally activated Ronald Acuña Jr., who’s been rehabbing after a complete tear in his ACL last July. The two-time Silver Slugger has a lot of experience absolutely dominating several Phillies pitchers, which spells trouble for the team, currently on a 3-game winning streak.

Acuña has faced Aaron Nola more than any other pitcher in his career thus far. Over 36 plate appearances against the Phillies righty, he’s slugging .379/.500/.793 with a 1.293 OPS, three doubles, three home runs, and five RBI. He’s drawn seven walks and only struck out nine times.

Here’s how he stacks up against the rest of the Phillies’ arsenal:

  • Zack Wheeler (29 PA): .286/.310/.714, 1.025 OPS, 3 doubles, 3 HR, 5 RBI
  • Zach Eflin (26 PA): .261/.346/.435, .781 OPS, 1 double, 1 HR, 3 RBI
  • Ranger Suárez (5 PA): 2 hits, 1 double, 2 RBI

Also notable and weird is that Acuña has drawn walks in all seven of his career plate appearances combined against Jeurys Familia (5) and Jose Alvarado (2).

There are also several Phillies pitchers, such as Corey Knebel, whom Acuña has faced once, which means the future at-bats could go either way. He’s also never faced starter Kyle Gibson, whom the Phillies acquired at the trade deadline weeks after Acuña tore his ACL.

The Phillies and Braves won’t face off until almost a month from now, when the Phillies go to Atlanta on May 23 for a four-game set, but that just gives the slugger time to get comfortable again.

Besides, Acuña already has a .281/.384/.565 line and .949 OPS over 199 career games in his home park, so that doesn’t bode well for the Phillies, either.

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