Kingery tabbed for MLB debut as Phillies face Foltynewicz, Braves

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After blowing a five-run lead to the Atlanta Braves (1-0) on Opening Day, Gabe Kapler and the Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) will look to rebound behind RHP Nick Pivetta Friday evening at SunTrust Park. Pivetta will oppose five-year veteran RHP Mike Foltynewicz.

Phillies No. 2. Scott Kingery prospect will make his first big league start, batting sixth as the third baseman in lieu of Maikel Franco. Starting for the Braves at the hot corner is Ryan Flaherty, who appeared this spring with the Phillies as a non-roster invitee. Catcher Andrew Knapp will make his second start for the Phillies in as many games, instead of No. 7 prospect Jorge Alfaro.

Left fielder Rhys Hoskins provided the Phillies an early 1-0 lead in Thursday's season opener with a two-out RBI double in the first. The score remained the same until the the sixth: second baseman Cesar Hernandez went yard — his second straight home run on Opening Day — Franco walked with the bases loaded and Knapp hit a RBI single. Kapler pulled starter RHP Aaron Nola despite logging 6 1/3 shutout innings on 68 pitches (48 strikes), and the club's 5-0 lead soon evaporated after. In relief, LHP Hoby Milner allowed his inherited runner to score, along with another, while LHP Adam Morgan and RHP Hector Neris allowed two and three earned runs, respectively.

Friday will be a rare, next-day game following Opening Day, as there is usually a built-in rain date on day No. 2 of the regular season for teams to avoid a doubleheader at the onset of the season. The Braves opted instead to have the off-day on Easter Sunday, noted the Phillies radio broadcast. Ten other games (20 teams) will also take place on Friday.

The Phillies have lost five of their last six games against the Braves dating back to August 30th's doubleheader last season. The Phillies are 5-5 all-time at SunTrust Park.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) Atlanta Braves (1-0)
RHP Nick Pivetta RHP Mike Foltynewicz
(2017: 8-10, 6.02 ERA) (2017: 10-13, 4.79 ERA)

RHP Nick Pivetta, Age: 25

  • Career vs. ATL: 3-0, 2.12 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 17 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 5 BB, 13 SO, 1.118 WHIP
  • Career at SunTrust Park: 2-0, 2.45 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 HR, 4 BB, 8 SO, 1.364 WHIP

Pivetta enters the 2018 season with some momentum, after tossing two straight scoreless spring appearances on March 21 (two innings against Toronto Blue Jays) and March 25 (three innings against Baltimore Orioles). The right-hander struck out 17 batters in 18 1/3 innings, but surrendered a team-high four home runs.

Last season as a rookie, the Victoria, Canada, native punched out 140 batters in 133 innings and 26 starts, however he posted an unfavorable 6.02 ERA and 1.511 WHIP. The Phillies acquired Pivetta from the Washington Nationals in July of 2015 in exchange for franchise saves leader Jonathan Papelbon.

RHP Mike Foltynewicz, Age: 26

  • Career vs. PHI: 3-2, 4.50 ERA, 7 G, 6 GS, 36 IP, 36 H, 18 R, 18 ER, 6 HR, 14 BB, 35 SO, 1.389 WHIP
  • Career at SunTrust Park: 5-5, 3.95 ERA, 12 G, 12 GS, 68 1/3 IP, 74 H, 31 R, 30 ER, 6 HR, 25 BB, 64 SO, 1.449 WHIP

The Sterling, Illinois, native thrived in this year's Grapefruit League season, posting a 3.38 ERA, .196 opposing batting average and 1.00 WHIP through five starts and 16 innings. Foltynewicz had a 0.00 ERA after his first four starts (14 innings), but surrendered six runs in two frames during his last spring appearance on March 25 against the Detroit Tigers. 

Foltynewicz struck out 143 batters in 154 innings and 29 games last season for the Braves.

Starting Lineups:

Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) Atlanta Braves (1-0)
  Position Player Bats   Position Player Bats
1 2B Cesar Hernandez S 1 CF Ender Inciarte L
2 1B Carlos Santana S 2 2B Ozzie Albies S
3 CF Odubel Herrera L 3 1B Freddie Freeman L
4 LF Rhys Hoskins R 4 RF Nick Markakis L
5 RF Aaron Altherr R 5 C Kurt Suzuki R
6 3B Scott Kingery R 6 LF Preston Tucker L
7 C Andrew Knapp S 7 SS Dansby Swanson R
8 P Nick Pivetta R 8 3B Ryan Flaherty L
9 SS J.P. Crawford L 9 P Mike Foltynewicz  R

Broadcast Information:

  • First pitch: 7:35 p.m.
  • TV: NBCSP+
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

Game Notes:

  • Phillies reliever Pat Neshek was unavailable on Thursday because of a "little issue" with his lat. On Friday, the club placed Neshek on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to March 27) with a right shoulder strain. The club recalled Yacksel Rios from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in his place.
  • Hernandez is the fifth Phillie to homer in consecutive season openers, joining Freddy Galvis (2016-17), Jimmy Rollins (2007-08), Scott Rolen (1999-00-01) and Mike Schmidt (1988-89).
  • The Phillies showcased the youngest Opening Day roster (average age) among all MLB teams at 26 years, 334 days, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
  • The Phillies are the first team to blow a five or greater-run lead on Opening Day since the Chicago White Sox on April 5, 2004, per Jayson Stark and Elias. It was just the second such occurrence in franchise history (1995), according to Bob Vetrone Jr.
  • Kapler on his controversial Opening Day decisions, including pulling Nola early (via "Look, tonight the decisions did not work out in our favor, but I'm very confident over a long period of time that they will."
    • Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman on the decision (via's Todd Zolecki): "Once they took him out, it was kind of a jolt for us. You wanted to come back. Once they took out a guy like that, it gave us a bolt of energy."
  • Center fielder Odubel Herrera, who was upset not being part the Opening Day starting lineup, is .313/.353/.563 lifetime against Foltynewicz with a double, home run and three RBI in 16 at-bats. Herrera will start on Friday, batting third. Franco has also gone yard against the Braves right-hander, while no active member of the Braves has yet to homer off Pivetta through 35 at-bats.

Career vs.

What's Next:

  • Saturday, March 31, 2018: at Atlanta Braves, 7:10 p.m.
    • SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Ga.
    • RHP Vince Velasquez vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy
    • TV: NBCSP; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP