Ugh, the Atlanta Braves again. Sure, the Phillies may have gone 14-4 against them last season, but they have always played the Phillies tough and this year is no different. The Bravos got off to a surprising start that prompted Dayn Perry to call the Braves the favorites in the NL East on April 14. Immediately after that article hit the Web, the Braves lost five in a row and seven of their next eight games. Overall, they’re 8-14 since Dayn’s article. (Braves fans: do not send him hate mail and do not create a D.P. voodoo doll. Dayn is awesome — I’m just busting his chops.)
Since the Braves left Philly when the regular season opened, Brian McCann got glasses, Jordan Schafer stopped hitting, and Jeff Francoeur has been… well… Jeff Francoeur.
The Phillies, meanwhile, haven’t been getting any decent starting pitching save Chan Ho Park’s impressive, job-saving outing against Johan Santana and the New York Mets. Overall, Phillies pitching has a 5.39 ERA, which is the 15th-best, or the second-worst, in the National League behind only the Washington Nationals at 5.40. They’ve allowed 49 home runs, which pales in comparison to the next-highest total of 32 shared by three teams.
The Braves’ pitchers have allowed the league’s fewest home runs, a stark contrast to say the least. However, while the Braves have a much better staff, the Phillies’ offense is tops in the N.L. (5.77 runs per game) and the Braves’ is below the league average. In other words, the series is going to come down to whose weakness is least significant. If the Phillies can hit despite the flurry of home runs that will probably be allowed, things will be looking up when they welcome in the now-Manny-less Los Angeles Dodgers.
Let’s get to those charts now, shall we? You know the drill: first two charts show the hitters against the probable starters using career OPS; the second pair of charts show the pitchers’ success against their respective opponents.
Apologies to those of you who were looking for the series previews for the Cardinals and Mets. At least they were short!