What more could Phillies fans want out of their upcoming NLDS matchup than to have it against the arch rival Atlanta Braves? Beginning Saturday evening at 6:07 ET, the two clubs will face off in a high-stakes postseason matchup.
Prior to this series getting underway, The Athletic polled 18 of their writers to see who they were picking in the NLDS games. 11 of them were polled in the Phillies-Braves series and the results were swayed pretty heavily in Atlanta's favor. Of the 11 writers, only three of them; Britt Ghiroli, Jen McCaffrey and Steve Berman, picked the Phillies to take home the series win.
So this begs the question, why are the Phillies viewed as such massive underdogs here?
The Braves were clearly the best team in the majors during the 2023 regular season, as their 104 wins was the most in the entire league. It helps their case that they led the National League in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and fWAR, amongst many other major offensive categories.
However, the Phillies should never be fully counted out, especially after their historic run to the World Series in the 2022 postseason. The club played underdog throughout the entire postseason last year and took their improbable odds all the way to the finish line. While they ultimately fell short and lost to the Houston Astros, there's no reason why the 2023 installment of the Phillies can't do this again.
Ghiroli kicks things off by saying that she's pro-Phillies because regular-season success does not always translate to the playoffs. She specifically cites the Braves' injury concerns surrounding starters Max Fried and Charlie Morton as a few reasons why the club could suddenly be mortal after all. She finishes by saying that the Phillies will need both Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola to step up this series like they did against the Marlins, which is also of the utmost importance.
McCaffrey and Berman have less to say overall, but their shared thoughts are that the Phillies feel like a special team capable of making a deep run once again. While the Braves were 8-5 in the overall season series against Philly, it's worth noting that anything can happen in this best-of-five series.
Elsewhere in the piece, the polled writers also favor the Dodgers (8) over the Diamondbacks (3); the Orioles (7) over the Rangers (4); and the Astros (7) over the Twins (4).