By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor
The Philadelphia Phillies will embark on their 136th season – and their first under their 54th manager Gabe Kapler – as they take on right-hander Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves Thursday afternoon at SunTrust Park.
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola receives his first Opening Day starting nod of his now four-year big-league career. Teheran begins his eighth season and will make his fifth consecutive Opening Day start. The Braves have fallen in three of Teheran's four Opening Day appearances, outscored 13-5 and outhit 31-22. The Phillies, meanwhile, have split their last four season openers, outscored 27-20 while being slightly outhit, 38-36. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (2016-2017) and southpaws Cole Hamels (2015) and Cliff Lee (2014) were the Phillies starters in those contests.
The Phillies are 61-72-2 all-time on Opening Day. Last season, the club went 5-4 at SunTrust Park and 13-6 against the Braves overall. The Phillies have fallen in four of their last five meetings with the Braves, however, outscored 25-9.
Starting Pitching Matchup:
RHP Aaron Nola, Age: 24
Nola finished the 2017 season with a 2.49 ERA and 2-1 record in four starts, striking out 36 batters while allowing eight walks in 25 1/3 innings. The right-hander has yet to toss a complete game through 60 career starts.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has performed well against the Braves, including his first and only career start at SunTrust Park thus far on June 6 of last season – tossing eighth innings of one-run baseball en route to the Phillies' 3-1 win.
RHP Julio Teheran, Age: 27
The two-time All-Star has struggled thus far through 17 starts at SunTrust Park, losing 10 of his 13 decisions while posting a 5.86 ERA and 1.495 WHIP in 93 2/3 innings. Teheran fared much better in 70 appearances and 435 1/3 innings at Turner Field, going 24-16 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.093 WHIP.
Teheran ended 2017 on a sour note, allowing five runs (all earned) on eight hits, three walks and a home run in six innings against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 28. The Cartagena, Colombia native started in four games against the Phillies last season – July 28, August 8, August 30 and Sept. 23 – and went 1-2 with one no-decision.