By Matt Albertson, Sports Talk Philly Staff
PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Philadelphia Phillies return to South Philly for a crucial series against the division leading Atlanta Braves this evening. The Braves are 4-6 in their last 10 games and were just swept in Atlanta by the rebuilding Kansas City Royals. On the other hand, the Phillies are 7-3 in their last 10 games and just completed a road trip where they recorded four wins and only one loss. The Braves lead over the Phillies in the division was at a season-high 9.5 games on July 15 but is now down to 5.5 games.
The Washington Nationals are one game ahead of the Phillies in the standings and are in a three way tie for the two wild card spots, along with the Cubs and Cardinals.
The Phillies must win two games to keep pace in the division race but can make the race really interesting with a sweep of the Braves this weekend. It seems that the Phillies are catching the Braves at an opportune time, too. Not only are the Braves scuffling over the past ten days, but rookie pitching sensation Mike Soroka has been mediocre over his last seven starts. During that span, the young righty has posted a .318 BAA, a 4.38 ERA, and a 3.63 FIP. Overall, Soroka has been excellent in his nine road starts, sporting a 6-0 record with a 1.13 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. The Braves are 13-4 in Soroka's starts this season.
The Phillies will counter with veteran right hander Jake Arrieta. Since announcing that he had a marble-sized bone spur in his right elbow, he has allowed just two earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings. Arrieta needs a continuation performance for the Phillies to win tonight. It will also be interesting to see what Arrieta's pitch selection will be against the Braves. Arrieta's slider usage has almost completely stopped since he announced his injury so it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. The Braves have stacked the lineup with left handed batters tonight, with only Acuna Jr., Donaldson, and Soroka the only dedicated right handers. Arrieta's opponents slash line against lefties this season is .319/.391/.529 with 11 home runs surrendered and 30 runs earned. In 2015 when Arrieta won the Cy Young, his opponents slash was .159/.221/.228 with 3 home runs surrendered and only 17 runs earned.
Starting Pitching Matchup: