Series Preview: Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park for a 3-game set vs Braves, Zack Wheeler on the mound
The Phillies are back at Citizens Bank Park, gearing up for a crucial 3-game set against the Atlanta Braves. Zack Wheeler (6-4, 2.77 ERA) gets the ball for the Phils, going up against Charlie Morton (4-3, 4.84 ERA).
Tonight kicks off the Phillies’ first full series without Bryce Harper in the lineup after he was drilled with a 97mph fastball on Saturday night. Harper will be out at least six weeks after it was announced this morning that the reigning NL MVP will need surgery. The Phillies remain optimistic that Harper will return this season.
One of the biggest series’ of the year is upon us, as the Phillies could make up some major ground in the Wild Card and the NL East. The Phillies trail the Braves by three games in the NL East for second place. They are eight games behind the New York Mets who currently sit in first place. The Braves do hold the second Wild Card spot, while the Phillies trail the San Francisco Giants for the final spot by two games.
Tonight is the start of a 9-game home stand for the Phillies. Kicking off with the Braves for three games, followed by Cardinals to town for three games, then the Washington Nationals for a three game set immediately following Fourth of July weekend.
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Series Pitching Matchups
- Tuesday (7:05): Zack Wheeler vs Charlie Morton
- Wednesday (7:05): Ranger Suarez vs Kyle Wright
- Thursday (6:05): Aaron Nola vs Ian Anderson
Zack Wheeler vs Charlie Morton
Zack Wheeler is set to take the hill for the Phillies, who is coming off one of his worst outings of the year, going just four and a third, allowing 7 hits and 4 runs. Wheeler has been fantastic at home this season, tallying just a 1.49 ERA in 42 home innings this season in 7 starts. He’s allowed 28 hits and just 7 earned runs while striking out 48, and holding an OBA of .188. Morton gets the ball for Atlanta, who holds a 5.63 ERA in 38.1 road innings this season.
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Can the Bryce Harper-less Phillies Still Compete?
Yes. The Phillies haven’t been a great team without Bryce Harper in the lineup, that isn’t a secret. But this team is too talented to just crumble and end their season after one injury.
Nick Castellanos had his first 4-hit game as a Phillie on Sunday. Kyle Schwarber has 21 HRs before the All-Star break. Both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have sub-3 ERAs on the year and are both pitching like All-Stars. This team is already starting to come together in the locker room, and they’re being led by the veterans in the clubhouse. The “Next Man Up” mentality has already hit the Phils, with guys like Matt Vierling and Mickey Moniak ready to step up in the outfield.
The Braves are 42-32 on the year, coming off a series split vs the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team is being led by Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley in the absence of Acuna and Albies. Swanson is up to .304 on the year and is the team leader in RBIs with 43, while Austin Riley leads the team with 18 HRs.
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
|Braves||-1.5 (+172)||+102||O7.5 (-118)|
|Phillies||+1.5 (-210)||-120||U7.5 (-104)|
The Braves are a good baseball team, there’s no doubt about it. But the Phillies have something to prove now, and I believe tonight is the start of a run. Wheeler deals and Phils win big. 8-2 Final.
- Series Prediction: Phils win 2 of 3
- Series MVP: Nick Castellanos