Monday, September 25, 2023
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MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies (81-68) at Atlanta Braves (96-53)


GAME #149 RECAP: The Phillies fell to the Cardinals, 6-5, on a getaway day in St. Louis … Starter Taijuan Walker (ND) went 7.0 innings and allowed 5 runs on 8 hits with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts … Down 3-0, the Phillies rallied back to tie it with 3 runs in the 4th … St. Louis went ahead 5-3 in the 5th before the Phillies tied it at 5-5 in the 8th … In the bottom of the 8th, Jordan Walker turned around a 98.4 MPH Seranthony Dominguez sinker for a home run that gave the Cardinals the lead which they would hold in the 9th … The Phillies finished the season series 5-1 against St. Louis.

SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY: Since signing with the Phillies as a free agent prior to the 2020 season, Zack Wheeler has made 6 starts in this ballpark and has posted a 2.23 ERA (10 ER, 40.1 IP) with 48 strikeouts to only 6 walks (8.00 SO/BB ratio) … Wheeler has faced 156 Atlanta hitters in that span and has held them to a .218/.258/.340 slash line (.598 OPS) … Over his last 4 starts in Atlanta (since 9/28/21), Wheeler has gone at least 6.2 innings and allowed 2 runs or fewer in all four (Phils are 3-1) … Wheeler will take the mound tonight at Truist Park for the first time since earlier this year on May 27 when he tossed 8.0 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts, 1 walk and only 3 hits allowed … Since 2017, only twice has an MLB pitcher held Atlanta scoreless through 8.0 innings with at least 12 strikeouts, and Wheeler has done it both times (6/10/21 at CBP and 5/27/23 at ATL).

I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN: The Phillies face Atlanta for the second time in a week after recently dropping 3 of 4 at Citizens Bank Park (9/11-13) … All four games were decided by 3 runs or fewer and three of the four games were decided by 2 runs or fewer … In Game 1 of a doubleheader on Sept. 11, the Phillies fought back from a 4-run deficit as Bryce Harper hit a game-tying 2-run homer off Atlanta closer Raisel Iglesias – Atlanta would score twice in the 10th inning and hold on for the win … In the 3rd game of the series on Sept. 12, the Phillies again tied it with a home run in the 9th (Trea Turner off Iglesias) but would fall in extras.

BALL GO BOOM: Since August 1, the Phillies have hit 85 home runs which ranks 2nd in MLB, behind only ATL (88 HR) – the Twins rank 3rd in MLB with 72 home runs, 13 behind the Phillies … Philadelphia also ranks 2nd to ATL with 175 extra-base hits (ATL 182) and a .508 SLG (ATL .518) … The Phillies are averaging 5.95 runs per game since August 1 which ranks 3rd in MLB behind only ATL (6.24) and HOU (6.09) … Per Statcast, since August 1, the Phillies rank 1st among all clubs in MLB in average exit velocity (90.3 MPH) and 2nd in hard hit rate (43.9%), trailing only ATL (44.2%).

LEADING MAN: Leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber has a career-high 119 walks this season which ranks 8th in Phillies franchise history for a single year (7th is Mike Schmidt with 120 in 1979) … The franchise record for walks in a season is 129, set by Lenny Dykstra in 1993 … Schwarber currently ranks 2nd in MLB this year in both walks and walk rate (17.8%), trailing only Juan Soto in both (122, 18.6%) … Since he was moved back to the leadoff spot on June 2, the Phillies are 41-14 in the 55 games Schwarber has scored a run (.745) and they are 23-5 in the 28 games he has homered (.821) … Last Wednesday in San Diego, Schwarber set a franchise record with his 10th leadoff home run this season, eclipsing Jimmy Rollins’ previous record of 9 in 2007 … Since the All-Star break, Schwarber has posted a .946 OPS in 59 games (277 PA) with 49 runs, 22 home runs, 48 RBI and 61 walks with a 22.0% BB rate.

120 WALKS, 100 RUNS, 100 RBI, 45 HOMERS: Kyle Schwarber has 119 walks, 101 runs, 44 homers and 97 RBI this season … He is only 1 walk, 1 homer and 3 RBI shy of joining a list of 12 other players in MLB since 1920 when RBI became official to join the 120 walk/100 run/100 RBI/45 home run club … Babe Ruth did so eight times, Barry Bonds four times, Mark McGwire two times, and Lou Gehrig, Chipper Jones, Aaron Judge, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt & Jim Thome all did so once.

GET ME TO THE PLATE BOYS: In “Close & Late” situations (7th inning or later with the batting team ahead by one run, tied, or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck), Bryce Harper has 84 plate appearances this season and he is slashing .400/.500/.657 with a 1.157 OPS that ranks 2nd in MLB … Per FanGraphs, Harper ranks T-2nd in MLB this year in Win Probability Added at 5.45 (with LAD’s Mookie Betts) – he trails only ATL’s Ronald Acuna Jr. (6.42).

TURNED HIM LOOSE: Over his last 38 games (since 8/4) Trea Turner is slashing .372/.411/.763 (1.174 OPS) with 36 runs, 11 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs, 41 RBI, 9 walks and 6 stolen bases in 168 plate appearances … Turner has raised his season AVG from .235 on August 3rd to .271 entering play tonight and his season OPS from .657 on Aug. 3 to .791 … With 96 runs, 32 doubles, 26 home runs and 27 stolen bases this year, Turner is only 4 runs, 8 doubles, 4 home runs and 3 steals away from becoming only the third player in Phillies franchise history with a 100 run, 30 double, 30 homer, 30 stolen base season: Bobby Abreu (2x, 2001 & 2004) and Jimmy Rollins (2007).

ROAD WORK: The Phillies are in the middle of a seven-day, six-game road trip where they have won two of the first three … They are 38-37 (.507) on the road this season, however, since June 3, they have gone 27- 15 on the road with an MLB-best .643 winning percentage … On the mound, the Phillies have also posted an MLB-best 3.42 ERA on the road since June 3rd which includes a 3.66 ERA from the starters and a 2.95 mark from the bullpen.

PASS THE PEPTO: The Phillies are 33-27 since the All-Star break with a .550 winning percentage that ranks 5th among all NL clubs in the 2nd half behind LAD (.678), MIL (.603), ATL (.600) and CHI (.590) … However, the Phils have a +63 run differential since the break (329-266) which ranks 4th in the NL behind LAD (+109), ATL (+72) and MIL (+68) … Of Philadelphia’s 27 losses since the break, 23 have been by 3 runs or fewer (85%), 21 have been by two runs or fewer (78%) and 13 have been one-run losses (48%).

THEFT UP THE MIDDLE: Philadelphia’s double play combo of Trea Turner (27 SB/0 CS) and Bryson Stott (29 SB/2 CS) have combined for 56 stolen bases and have only been caught twice (96.6% success rate) – Turner ranks 1st in MLB in stolen base percentage and Stott ranks 5th (93.5%) … Per Elias, caught stealing has only been fully recorded since 1951 – since then (73 seasons), no two teammates (much less SS/2B) have combined for 50+ stolen bases with fewer than three caught stealings in one season.

Height: 6-4 Weight: 195 Age: 33 (born: 5/30/90)
2023: 11-6, 3.70 ERA Career: 85-63, 3.46 ERA

LAST START: 9/12 vs ATL: ND, 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 4 SO … Wheeler vs Fried … The Phillies fell to Atlanta, 7-6, at Citizens Bank Park … Down 6-1 batting in the 7th, the Phillies rallied for five runs over the next 3 innings to tie it at 6-6 and send the game to extras … Trea Turner had an RBI single in the 7th, Bryce Harper (solo) and Bryson Stott (2 run) homered in the 8th and Turner homered in the 9th to tie it … Following Turner’s home run, the Phillies had runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out in the 9th but could not score the winning run … Atlanta took a 7-6 lead in the 10th – the Phils had the tying run at 3rd with 1 out in the bottom of the frame but could not score.


  • 200: Wheeler is 4 strikeouts away from 200 on the season … It would be the second season of his career with 200 strikeouts (other: 247 in 2021) … He would become only the 10th Phillies pitcher in the Modern Era to have multiple seasons with 200+ strikeouts Cy Young Push: Among NL pitchers, Wheeler ranks 1st OPP OBP (.273), T-2 nd in WHIP (1.07), 2nd in SO/BB (5.60), 3rd in BB/9.0 IP (1.80), FIP (3.17) and T-3rd in quality starts (19), 5th in OPP OPS (.639), 6th in OPP SLG (.366), 7th in SO/9.0 IP (10.08), OPP AVG (.228) and H/9.0 IP (7.87) … Wheeler leads all NL pitchers in fWAR with 5.4 and is 11th among all major leaguers … Of the 56 National
    League Cy Young Awards handed out since 1967, 30 have gone to the league leader in fWAR that year (54%) The Gift That Keeps on Giving: Since he signed with the Phillies as a free agent (since 2020), Wheeler ranks 1st among all pitchers in MLB in fWAR at 18.7 and he leads Corbin Burnes who ranks 2nd at 17.6, Kevin Gausman ranks 3rd (16.9), Aaron Nola 4th (16.0) and Gerrit Cole 5th (14.3) Pull a Fast One: Per Statcast, Wheeler’s 4-seamer has a run value of 16, which is the 5th best in all of baseball … His OPP SLG of .317 ranks 2nd in MLB and his OPP AVG of .199 (52-261) is 3rd (min. 200 PA) … His K % of 32% with it is 4th in MLB and his 30.7 whiff % is 4th In the Zone: On the year, Wheeler’s 4.9% walk rate ranks 5th among NL pitchers with at least 100.0 IP … It is currently the lowest walk rate of his career (previous best: 5.4%, 2021) … Wheeler has 19 starts this year in which he’s thrown at least 5.0 IP while walking 1 or no batters, which ranks T-4th in MLB (most: Logan Webb, 21) … It is a new career-high for most such starts in a single season (previous best: 18, 2021) … In 7 starts from 7/1-8/8 (43.2 IP), Wheeler walked only 3 batters … It is the first time in his career that he walked 3 or fewer batters in a 7-game span Zack With a K: Wheeler’s SO/BB rate of 5.60 is the 5th best in MLB … It is currently the best SO/BB rate of any season in his career (2nd best: 2021, 5.37) … Wheeler currently ranks 6th in the NL in strikeouts with 196 Winning DNA: On 8/26, Wheeler earned his 10th win of the season … He has earned 10+ wins in 6 seasons and has done so in every season with at least 20 starts …
    Wheeler has earned double-digit wins in 3 straight seasons for the first time in his career Swing and Miss: Wheeler has 5 double digit strikeout games this season, which ranks T-3rd in the NL … He has accomplished this feat 1 other time in his career, posting 7 such games in 2021 Wheelin’ and Dealin’: In his 2 starts from 8/26-9/1, Wheeler became the 3rd Phillies pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) with back-to-back starts with 10+ strikeouts and no walks (others: Cole Hamels, 8/1-7/10; Curt Schilling, 9/15-21/96) … Wheeler is the second ML pitcher to do so this season (other: Zac Gallen, 4/21-26) Quality Control: Wheeler ranks T-3rd in the National League with 19 quality starts and he has earned one in 10 of his last 12 outings … Wheeler’s 7 starts with at least 7.0 IP and 3 or fewer ER is T-7th most in the NL … His quality start streak from 7/7- 8/15 marked the 3rd time in his career he has had at least a 7-game streak with a quality start and first time since 5/6-6/16/21 … He is one of 14 ML pitchers to do so this year • Statcast Rankings: 97th percentile in extension, 94th percentile in walk rate, 89th percentile in average exit velocity, 88th percentile in xERA, 84th percentile in barrel rate, 81st percentile in chase rate, 79th percentile in fastball velocity and 77th
    percentile in SO rate Pitch Usage: 4-seam fastball (42.3%), Sinker (18.6%), Slider (14.9%), Sweeper (12.2%), Curveball (11.7%), Changeup (0.3%) vs NL East: 42-33, 3.54 ERA (261 ER, 663.1 IP) in 108 starts


  • 2023: 7-4, 3.26 ERA (35 ER, 96.2 IP) in 16 starts
  • Career: 45-30, 3.45 ERA (259 ER, 675.0 IP) in 113 starts

2023 SEASON:

  • Took a no-hitter into the 8th inning on 6/8 vs DET which was the longest no-hit bid of his career (previous: 6.1 innings on 7/30/13 vs MIA)
  • Reached 10 years of ML service on Sunday (6/11) vs LAD
  • Recorded his 18th career double-digit strikeout game and 10th as a Phillie on 5/27 at ATL
  • Made his 200th career start on 4/23 vs COL
  • Racked up a career-high 24 swings and misses on 8/26 vs STL


TONIGHT’S GAME: The Braves and Phillies tonight open a three-game series with what is the 11th of 13 scheduled meetings between the clubs this season… Atlanta and Philadelphia last met last week, with the Braves taking three-of-four at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves beat the Phillies, 4-1, last Wednesday to clinch the N.L. East division title, and Atlanta has won 7-of-10 games with Philadelphia this year. Atlanta went 11-8 against Philadelphia last season to win the season set, and has won the season series with the Phillies in each of the last two years…The Braves went 10-9 against the Phillies in 2021, and have now won the season set with Philadelphia in consecutive years for the first time since a five-year run, 2012-2016. The Braves and Phillies met in the 2022 postseason, with Philadelphia winning the NLDS, three-games-to-one, to eliminate the defending World Series champions…Philadelphia outscored Atlanta, 24-13, in the series. Atlanta and Philadelphia have split four games here at Truist Park this season, and the Braves are 34-19 (.642) against the Phillies here since the facility opened in 2017…Atlanta has a losing record here at home against Philadelphia just once since 2017, going 4-5 in the stadium’s inaugural season…In the six seasons since, the Braves are 30-14 (.682). RH Kyle Wright is set to make his eighth career appearance and seventh career start against the Phillies, including his second in the last week… The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander pitched at Citizens Bank Park on September 11 and allowed six hits and six runs over 3.0 innings to take the loss, and is 2-4 with a 5.13 ERA (19 ER/33.1 IP) all-time versus Philadelphia. RH Zack Wheeler has made 26 starts against Atlanta in his career, compiling an 11-7 record with a 3.24 ERA (59 ER/164.0 IP)…He faced the Braves last Tuesday in Philadelphia and allowed seven hits and six runs over 5.0 innings in a no-decision…The 6-foot-4, 195-pound native of Smyrna, GA, attended East Paulding High School, located just 19 miles from Truist Park.

LOSS: The Braves lost to the Marlins, 16-2, yesterday afternoon, completing the sweep by Miami…It is the only series Atlanta has lost to an N.L. East team this
season. The Braves entered the weekend going 11-0-1 in series play versus the N.L. East…Atlanta last lost a series to an N.L. East club in Miami, losing two-of-three in the last series of last season, October 3-5. Atlanta had not been swept by an intra-division team since the first series of 2021, when the Braves dropped all three games in Philadelphia, April 1-4…The club had not been swept by Miami since August 31-September 2 of 2015. The Braves’ 14-run defeat yesterday was their
worst since losing by 15, 17-2, at Colorado on August 16, 2017.

TWO STRIKES: Ozuna’s home run yesterday afternoon came in a two-strike count and the Braves are batting .192/.274/.322 with a .596 OPS with two strikes this season, all of which are best in the majors… Atlanta’s 84 two-strike homers are also most in baseball. For reference, the major league average with two strikes is .172/.249/.274 with a .533 OPS. Atlanta is striking out just 38.8% of the time when getting to two strikes, the third-lowest rate in baseball…Only Cleveland (36.6%) and Washington (38.1%) are fanning less often in such counts…The Guardians (115) and Nationals (138) have the two lowest home run totals in baseball. Last season, the Braves struck out 44.5% of the time in two-strike counts, the fifth-highest rate in the majors. In total this season, Atlanta is striking out in just 20.5% of its plate appearances, the fourth-lowest rate in baseball…Last season, the Braves ranked 28th and fanned in 24.6% of their plate appearances. Atlanta’s 4.1% reduction in its strikeout rate this season is largest in the majors, with Miami (2.8%) being the only other team above 2.0%…Minnesota has fanned 4.8% more often this year to rank last.

HOME FIELD: Atlanta tonight can clinch a bye in the Wild Card Series and home-field advantage in the NLDS with a win versus Philadelphia or a Brewers loss at St. Louis. Since the 2018 season, home teams are 110-90 (.550) in the postseason, including a 15-7 (.682) record in such games by the Braves at Truist Park. Atlanta’s .682 postseason winning percentage at home since 2018 is third highest in baseball, behind just the Phillies (6-2, .750) and Rays (11-5, .688).

Tonight’s Starting Pitcher – #30 Kyle Wright
RHP • 6-4 • 215 • 27 yrs
2023 Record: 0-2, 7.48 ERA • 2022 Record: 21-5, 3.19 ERA
vs. RHB: .307 (19-62), 0 HR • vs. LHB: .313 (10-32), 2 HR
Home: 0-1, 5.73 ERA (7 ER/11.0 IP) • Away: 0-2, 9.28 ERA (11 ER/10.2

Today’s Game

  • Slated to make seventh start of the year and second against Philadelphia. Allowed six runs in 3.0 innings pitched in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Phillies. Wright was placed on the 15-day injured list on May 4 with right shoulder inflammation after his start against Miami on May 2…Was later transferred to the 60-day IL on May 15. Went 132 days between starts. Struck out 12 hitters and pitched to a 3.24 ERA in three rehabilitation appearances between Triple-A Gwinnett and High-A Rome. Had a 2.03 FIP in those three starts. Wright is set to make his sixth start against Philadelphia and first on the season. Owns a career 3.86 ERA against the Phillies.

2023 Recap

  • Snapped a career-long eight-game winning streak against Houston on April 22. At the time, it was the longest active streak in the National League. Prior to the loss, Atlanta had won 11 consecutive games started by Wright. It was just the fourth time in his career he failed to record more than two strikeouts and first since July 4, 2022 against against St. Louis. Allowed four hits, four runs and four walks with three strikeouts in 3.0 innings pitched during his season debut against Cincinnati. It was his shortest outing as a starter since tossing 2.0 frames on June 23, 2021 at New York (NL). The Braves returned Wright on April 11 from his rehabilitation assignment and reinstated him from the injured list. Wright opened the season on the injured list, being placed on the IL on March 27 with right shoulder inflammation.
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