Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
Date and Time: Saturday, September 22, 2018, 1 p.m. ET
Location: SunTrust Park
MLB Odds: Check Back Later
Probable Pitchers: Jake Arrieta vs. Sean Newcomb
Phillies vs. Braves TV Coverage: FOX
In the third game of a four-game weekend series between the Phillies and Braves down in Atlanta, two struggling pitchers will get the ball, looking to turn around their own fortunes. For the Phillies, that means Jake Arrieta who do his best to keep the Phillies semi-relevant heading into the final week. Sean Newcomb will start for a Braves team getting itself positioned for some October baseball.
It’s been a long season for both teams. The Phillies and Braves are both filled with young players not accustom to the long grind of the big-league season though Atlanta seems to be handling the perils of September better than the Phillies.
Philadelphia is 9-19 over its last 28 games with both the offense and pitching letting the team down over that stretch.
Offensively, the Phillies haven’t been a powerhouse all year. They’ve gotten by with just enough offense to support a stellar pitching staff, but the pitching has crumbled both in the rotation and in the bullpen. The team has five blown saves over the last 30-days. Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano were key to this pen and have not thrown well over the last month.
At the plate, Odubel Herrera has a .210 average and .283 OBP in the second half. Cesar Hernandez and Asdrubal Cabrera are hitting .226 and .227 respectively in that time.
Over the last month, Nick Williams is batting .203, Herrera is hitting .172, and even Rhys Hoskins—the only reliable bat in the order-is batting .223.
As for the Braves, Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to rake. He’s hitting .304 over the last month. Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman have been hitting well, too. Ender Inciarte has a .381 OBP over his last 100 at bats and he’s—arguably—the weakest link in the everyday lineup.
The Braves have the second-best average in the NL and are easily a top-5 offense in the league by most metrics.
In the bullpen, Atlanta has a slew of talented young arms, calling on their plethora of pitching prospects to help reinforce the latter innings. Some of the young talent needs more refining, but for an inning or two at a time, it’s hard to knock their stuff.
At the same time, Atlanta has recently gotten Arodys Vizcaino back from the DL and have gotten nothing but results from Brad Brach, Sam Freeman, Jonny Venters, Chad Sobotka, and Max Fried.
The Phillies brought in Arrieta this offseason to be a stabilizing force in the rotation and he’s been just that for most of the year. Serving as a strong No.2 behind Aaron Nola, Arrieta’s helped the rest of the rotation fall into place and carry the team into a first-place tie in the NL East into the middle of August. But as the Phillies’ team started to falter, so did Arrieta.
The 32-year old right-hander has had a lot of wear and tear on his arm over the last five seasons and his ERA has steadily gone up every year since 2015. Here in 2018, he’s 10-9 with a 3.77 ERA, his highest since 2013.
Overall, with a 112 ERA+, Arrieta’s been a well above average starter, but he’s had a bad last seven starts, pitching to a 6.02 ERA in that span as his overall ERA has gone up more than half a run from 3.11.
For the second straight year, Arrieta has a FIP over four and a WHIP over 1.2. He allows his share of base hits and walks while his strikeout rate is at 7.3, also his worst since 2013.
In the end, Arrieta is still a solid pitcher, but no longer the ace he was for the Cubs. He’s also in the middle of a lull that’s seen the team go 2-6 in his last eight starts.
Originally acquired from the Angels in a deal involving Andrelton Simmons, Newcomb is a second-year lefty that was having a break out campaign in the first half, posting a 3.51 ERA. His ERA is now up to 4.04 as he’s struggled with command.
Over his last 13 starts, Newcomb is 4-7 with a 5.92 ERA. He’s had a couple good outings sprinkled in there, including a one-run, six-inning performance against the Giants on September 10 and a six-inning shutout against the Marlins on August 23, but for the most part, it’s been a tough road.
The Braves have only won four of his last 15 games and he’s failed to get through five innings in four of his last five starts, the start against the Giants the lone exception.
The young southpaw will have a lot riding on this start as he tries to justify a spot in the postseason rotation. Of course, motivation isn’t the issue so much as fatigue and, perhaps, league adjustment.
Phillies vs. Braves Picks
Don’t count on either starter to go deep in this game and if you’re betting the total runs at BookMaker Sportsbook, take the over on the action. Jake Arrieta and Sean Newcomb both bring a slew of questions given their recent performances, but fortunately for the Braves’ hurler, he’s got a weaker opposing offense to go against.
Newcomb’s last solid outing came against a Giants team that, similarly to the Phillies, ranked near the bottom in the NL in runs scored.
The Phillies should still be able to get to Newcomb for a few runs and the lefty is unlikely to go much past five innings if he makes it there, but a lackluster offense in Philly gives him an edge over Arrieta who will have to face one of the league’s better—and deeper—lineups.
Look for the Braves to score a few off Arrieta and add-on against a Philadelphia bullpen showing signs of fatigue save for a few arms.
As a team, the Phillies look tired; on offense, defense and on the mound. The Braves meanwhile are pushing towards October. While they have a few players slowing, the team is playing a much better brand of baseball, at the moment, than the Phillies.
Look for the Braves offense to win this game at home for Atlanta.
Phillies vs. Braves Pick: Braves at BookMaker.eu
Phillies vs. Braves Score Prediction: Braves 7, Phillies 5