The Atlanta Braves hit the road again on Thursday where they will begin a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta swept Philadelphia at Truist Park last weekend, but the upcoming series is important for both teams. The Braves are trying to run down the Dishes in eastern Newfoundland, while the Phillies are 1.5 games behind the Padres for second wildcard and 2.5 games ahead of Milwaukee for last place. Max Fried will start in the opener for Atlanta while southpaw Ranger Suarez will be on the mound for Philadelphia.
Travis d’Arnaud returns to the lineup on Thursday and will strike cleanly against southpaw Suarez. D’Arnaud hit a hot stick in September with .333/.404/.667 with four home runs and a 195 wRC+ over his last 13 games. With d’Arnaud behind the plate, William Contreras will return as DH and finish sixth. The return of Ronald Acuña Jr to the outfield allowed the Braves to keep Contreras’ bat in the lineup. He’s hitting .306/.341/.500 with two homers and a 127 wRC+ in his last 11 games.
With two weeks left in the season, Atlanta needs Austin Riley and Matt Olson to get back on track. Riley hit five homers in September but only hit .191/.273/.426. Olson had three hits in the series against the Nationals but is just 7 for 65 with one homer and 23 strikeouts in his last 18 games.
Philadelphia snapped a five-game skid Wednesday with a win over the Blue Jays. JT Realmuto is back behind the plate for Game 1 of the series and has played well in the streak hitting .321/.397/.714 with seven homers in its last 16 games. If the Phillies are going to make a splash in the playoffs, then they’re going to need Bryce Harper to go. Harper, who missed two months with a thumb injury, is just 0.161/0.261/0.311 with two homers and a 63 wRC+ in September.
Thursday’s series opener has a scheduled start time of 7:15 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on FOX.