The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves meet in an ultra important series at SunTrust Park. This is it for the Phillies, win some games against the Braves and get back into the postseason picture, or it’s going to be an offseason thinking about what could have been. The Phillies and Braves meet for a four-game series beginning on Thursday, and then they meet again to finish up the regular season in the final week of September.
There are seven games for the Phillies to make a run at the Braves. They’re 5.5 games behind at the moment, so it’s not impossible, but yeah, it’s going to be tough for Philadelphia to pull it off. Maybe past Braves teams would throw this lead away, but there is certainly something different about this Braves squad. More talent for one, but the environment in Atlanta feels a whole lot different as well.
Outliers like Kevin Gausman have helped out considerably in Atlanta. An outcast in Baltimore that never panned out, Gausman has been playing some of the best baseball of his career since getting traded earlier this season. The Orioles waited on Gausman to develop into their number one guy. And while he had a couple of decent seasons, a career-high coming in 2014 with an ERA of 3.57.
With his numbers slipping above 4.00 this season, the Orioles called up the Braves and initiated a trade. I think it was a good move for all parties involved. Gausman goes to a contender with a chance to turn his career around, while the O’s part ways with a guy who likely needed a new city to play in. Gausman gets the nod for the Braves tonight, while the Phillies are expected to counter with Vince Velasquez. Head below for our free Phillies vs. Braves pick.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Pick
Vince Velasquez (9-11, 4.50 ERA) vs. Kevin Gausman (10-10, 3.92 ERA)
Gausman has found a nice home in Atlanta, where his numbers have seen an immediate move in the right direction. He left Baltimore with an ERA of 4.43 and his ERA in Atlanta after eight starts are at 2.61. Gausman also has a 1.10 WHIP and .285 OBA. He’s been especially good at home, with an ERA of 2.45 and 1.01 WHIP. Further, Gausman has given up more than 3 runs just once in those eight outings. The move has paid off thus far for the Braves, but they need him to keep it together as the postseason approaches. He’s certainly never pitched with the kind of pressure he will feel in the postseason. We’ll see if he enjoys the same success he’s had with the Braves to this point.
Vince Velasquez was trending in the right direction to give him the best year of his career. But, that was then and this is now. And what is happening now hasn’t been the best look for Velasquez. He is goes into Thursday with some recent starts he would rather forget about quickly. Velasquez holds a 9.82 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and .404 OBA in his previous three outings.
The Braves have done a nice job of hammering Velasquez when he’s been on the mound. They are hitting .325 with a .377 OBP in 126 at-bats. Ozzie Albies has gone deep twice, including a batting average of .400 against Velasquez. Markakis and Inciarte have done a number on him, with averages of .389 and .391 in 18 and 23 at-bats. Lucas Duda is about the only guy in the lineup who doesn’t have a good history against Velasquez, everyone has done something. The Braves look like they’re ready to put an even bigger gap between themselves and the Phillies on Thursday night.