The MLB action for the week comes to a close Sunday night when the Atlanta Braves face the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies will be going for the three-game sweep against Atlanta at home as things tighten up in the NL East.
The Braves have a rather tenuous lead atop the NL East these days. Atlanta took two of three from the Phillies last weekend and then swept a doubleheader against the Yankees during the week.
However, back-to-back losses have reduced their lead to just two games. The Braves also have three teams within three games of them, so the line between winning the division and not making the playoffs is rather thin in the NL East right now.
Meanwhile, the Phillies are one of two teams that are just two games behind Atlanta at the moment. Philadelphia has won five in a row to pull back to .500 on the season.
Of course, that five-game winning streak came on the heels of a five-game losing streak, so the Phillies have struggled to find consistency. Alas, they remain in the thick of the playoff race heading into the final month of the season.
Jake the Great
Jake Arrieta is set to start on Sunday for the Phillies. Of his five starts this season, two have gone well, while three have been a little disappointing.
The 34-year-old has struggled to find consistency this season, which has been a problem with Philadelphia’s bullpen and the back end of the rotation being unreliable. On the plus side, Arrieta is coming off a strong outing, allowing one run on three hits over five innings against the Nationals.
The other piece of good news is that Arrieta has a good track record against most of Atlanta’s prominent hitters. The likes of Marcell Ozuna and Nick Markakis have done little against Arrieta during their careers.
The righty has also managed to keep Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. from hurting him. Typically, that’s a recipe for success against the Braves, especially since their offense has been hot and cold recently. Of course, Freeman, Ozuna, and Acuna could all break out at any time, while Dansby Swanson and Travis d’Arnaud have helped add quality depth to Atlanta’s lineup this year.
As they search for answers in their starting rotation, Huascar Ynoa will get the start for Atlanta on Sunday. The 22-year-old made two starts earlier this month before coming out of the bullpen in his last two outings.
Ynoa is now getting another chance to be a starter. However, he’s pitched just 8 1/3 innings over four appearances, so he’s unlikely to last more than four innings on Sunday, putting the Atlanta bullpen on-call early.
For what it’s worth, Ynoa has some experience against Philadelphia’s hitters, pitching 2 1/3 innings against the Phillies earlier this month, giving up one run. When the Phillies are clicking as they have been recently, they can be dangerous offensively.
Bryce Harper is having a bounce-back season, posting an OPS over 1.000. Along with J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, and Rhys Hoskins, Harper gives the Phillies a dangerous heart of the order. With Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and youngster Alec Bohm putting together solid seasons, there is a fair amount of depth in Philadelphia’s lineup as well.
Bust Out the Brooms
Between Arrieta’s past success against the Braves and Atlanta’s pitching situation, things are looking good for the Phillies heading into Sunday’s game. Even if Arrieta isn’t at his best, the Phillies are likely to sting some hits together. Bet on the Phillies to beat the Braves and complete the sweep on Sunday night.