Thu, 28 Sep 2023

Braves could open Phillies series without Ronald Acuna Jr.

Field Level Media
18 Sep 2023, 21:55 GMT+10

(Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

The Braves will try to bounce back after being swept over the weekend, but it is uncertain whether MVP candidate Ronald Acuna Jr. will be in the lineup when Atlanta hosts the Philadelphia Phillies for three games beginning Monday night.

The slugging right fielder left Friday's game early with right calf tightness and did not play Saturday or Sunday. He will work out on Monday and have his availability determined at that time. Acuna is batting .337 with 37 homers, 98 RBIs and 66 stolen bases this season.

Philadelphia and Atlanta played a week ago, with Atlanta taking three of four and clinching the National League East title. The Braves lead the season series 7-3.

"It is what it is," Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber said. "It's not like it's uncompetitive losses, right? We've been in every single game. That's the positive thing to take out of it."

The Braves (96-53) were swept in Miami over the weekend, the first time they've lost a series to an intra-division opponent since April 2021. Philadelphia (81-68) took two of three at St. Louis, dropping Sunday's series finale 6-5.

The Braves were guaranteed a first-round playoff bye on Sunday when Milwaukee lost to Washington. Philadelphia has a three-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the race for the first NL wild-card spot.

The pitching matchup for the opening game of the series will feature Philadelphia right-hander Zack Wheeler (11-6, 3.70 ERA) against Atlanta right-hander Kyle Wright (0-2, 7.48).

Wheeler will make his 30th start of the season. He has faced the Braves twice this season, going 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 13 innings. In his most recent outing, he gave up six runs in five innings against the Braves in a game Atlanta won 7-6 in 10 innings on Tuesday.

Wheeler has pitched well in his career against the Braves. The Atlanta-area native is 11-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 26 previous starts against his hometown team.

Wright will make his second start since returning from shoulder inflammation that caused him to miss 110 games. He went three-plus innings against the Phillies in the second game of the doubleheader on Sept. 11 and allowed six runs - four in the first inning -- on six hits, two walks and three strikeouts.

"I would say the only positive is that I got back out there," Wright said. "I think that first inning, the inning definitely sped up on me. That's the one thing you can't really work on in a rehab start, is the extra deck, the speed of the game, the crowd. ... I kind of liked my stuff. I was just a little all over."

Wright will make his eighth career appearance, seventh start, vs. the Phillies. He is 2-4 with a 5.13 ERA against them.

Philadelphia third baseman Alec Bohm is coming off a good series against the Cardinals. He hit .417 (5-for-12) with a home run and two RBIs in the three-game series. He is batting .309 in 48 career games against Atlanta.

--Field Level Media

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