We all know the narrative by now.
The Atlanta Braves were down and out for a game and a half, while the Phillies looked to be cruising to a 2-0 NLDS advantage. But after a massive comeback win in Game 2 in Atlanta, the Braves have life and momentum coming into the raucous Citizens Bank Park for Game 3.
The Phillies are all professionals and won't fold after just one defeat. As bad as the result of Game 2 feels, it's just one loss. They know they're still in a good position by grabbing a split on the road.
This isn't new territory for The Fightins.
They found themselves in the exact same position at this time last year. After splitting the first two games of the 2022 NLDS in Atlanta, they came back to Philly, to home cooking, comfortable beds and a wild Philadelphia crowd.
The story wrote itself as the Phillies proceeded to clobber the Braves 9-1 and 8-3 and advance to the NLCS.
What must the Phillies do today to secure a crucial, if not must-win, Game 3 and recapture that NLDS magic from a year ago?
Jump on Bryce Elder early
While the Braves took their time announcing their Game 3 starter, it doesn't change the fact that the Phillies have the advantage on the mound. With 24-year-old Bryce Elder taking the ball for Atlanta, the Phillies' bats need to create offense and get on the board early.
Elder just completed his first full season in the big leagues and will make his postseason debut tonight. While he had some impressive outings this year, including a seven-inning, six-strikeout shutout against the Phils in June, the youngster was also prone to wildness and inconsistency all season.
Despite a respectable 3.81 ERA, Elder carried a 4.55 xERA, a 4.34 SIERA and a 4.42 FIP, suggesting he had better results than he should have.
Elder's 3.25 BB/9 was the 11th-highest mark among qualified starters. In his second-to-last start of the year, he walked five Phillies in 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on a pair of homers while striking out zero.
The Phillies need to stay patient and make Elder come into the zone. One of the keys to their successful second half was patience at the plate — they upped their walk rate to 10.0 percent over the final month of the season and combined that with the third most home runs in the majors over that time, with 48.
If they can get runners on base, the Phillies have more than enough offense to bring them home.