Phillies, Ranger Suarez to begin pivotal series against Braves

Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Casey Sykes/Getty Images)
Ranger Suarez #55 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Casey Sykes/Getty Images) /

The Phillies’ final home series of the regular season comes against the Braves.

The Philadelphia Phillies were swept last weekend by the Atlanta Braves in a frustrating series that saw some wasted pitching performances from Ranger Suarez, Aaron Nola, and Bailey Falter. Starting Thursday, interim manager Rob Thomson’s squad will look for some revenge.

The Phillies are coming off a series split against the Toronto Blue Jays. They lost 18-11 on Tuesday, followed by an extra-innings win on Wednesday — capped off with a walk-off single from Matt Vierling, who went 5-5.

The latter game also featured the return of Zack Wheeler to the rotation. The right-hander pitched a scoreless four innings — giving up just two hits while striking out three Blue Jays. Also, it is important to note that Wheeler’s velocity was at full strength.

As the Phillies prepare to take on Atlanta, they hope to carry over some momentum from Wednesday’s comeback. The team will be a bit lucky because it will miss Rookie of the Year candidate right-hander Spencer Strider — who is dealing with oblique soreness.

The Phillies will still have their work cut out for them, as they will have to face left-hander Max Fried in the series opener. Fried has had a very good season, posting a 2.52 ERA. He will be opposed by Ranger Suarez in a rematch from last weekend — in which the Phillies lost due to bullpen struggles.

On Friday, the Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound and hope that he can continue to keep the team in games this month. Nola will be opposed by Jake Odorizzi, who is hittable with a 4.04 ERA on the season.

Saturday afternoon, Bailey Falter will take the ball for the Phillies. The left-hander has been a rock in the rotation since taking over for Wheeler when he went on the injured list. Falter will oppose Braves right-hander Kyle Wright — who has a 3.18 ERA in 28 games.

The series finale will see the potential for a high-scoring game, as the Phillies will send Kyle Gibson out to face Charlie Morton. Both pitchers will come into the meeting with ERAs north of 4.00. Gibson struggled mightily in his last appearance against Toronto — giving up seven earned runs in five innings pitched.

As much as the Phillies will rely on starting pitching, their offense needs to come alive and the bullpen needs to stop teams from scoring. The Phils’ situational hitting has not been consistent — as sluggers Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper have struggled lately. Also, the bullpen has not been able to hold leads when given the opportunity — outside of Jose Alvarado — nor stop runs from scoring to keep them in games.

As the club comes down the stretch, they will need to greatly improve to instill some confidence in themselves and the fanbase. Fans are all too used to September disappointments. It is up to the 2022 team to change that narrative and finally grab a spot in the postseason.

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