PHILADELPHIA -- To this point, the Phillies and the Braves have followed the same blueprint as the 2022 season. Atlanta is hoping that’s where the similarities end.
For a second straight postseason, the Braves -- who won their sixth consecutive National League East title -- will take on the Phillies in the NL Division Series. Like last year, Atlanta has been waiting to learn its opponent after earning a first-round bye. And like last year, Philadelphia swept its way through the best-of-three Wild Card Series to set up a showdown against its division rival.
“[The Phillies] scare me as much as any team in the game,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said in the midst of his team winning three of four from Sept. 11-13 in Philadelphia.
Philly won Games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 17-4 to secure a spot in the NL Championship Series -- and end Atlanta’s season in the process.
“There’s no secrets about who we are as teams,” Phillies outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said. “We know who they are, they know who we are. It’s going to be a dogfight, no doubt about that.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 1 will be at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday at Truist Park, airing on TBS.
All series are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Phillies: Ranger Suárez is starting for the Phillies, just as he did in Game 1 of the 2022 NLDS against the Braves. Suárez struggled with his command in that outing, walking five batters over just 3 1/3 innings, though he managed to hold Atlanta to only one run in a 7-6 victory. It's been an up-and-down season for Suárez, who missed three weeks in late August due to a strained right hamstring. Upon his return, he put up a 3.31 ERA in his first three outings, but he struggled to a 7.94 ERA in his final two regular-season starts, including allowing a season-high six runs to the Pirates in the finale. But Suárez allowed one run in six innings against the Braves on June 20. He has pitched well against them in his career, too, going 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in seven regular-season starts.
Braves: Spencer Strider (20-5, 3.86 ERA) has gone 7-0 with a 2.01 ERA over seven career starts against the Phillies. He went 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA against them this year. But entering this expected Game 1 start, there will be talk about him allowing five runs over 2 1/3 innings in NLDS Game 3 last year. Strider breezed through the first two innings in dominant fashion and then fatigued in the third. He had thrown off a mound just twice over the previous 26 days because of an oblique strain.
Strider set a single-season Braves record with his MLB-leading 281 strikeouts this year. He allowed two runs or less while completing at least five innings in 18 of his 32 starts this year. This includes each of his three starts against the Phillies.
What are the starting lineups?
Phillies: Philadelphia is deploying a similar lineup to the one it used in the NL Wild Card Series, with a few exceptions in terms of the batting order. The only personnel change will be the left-handed-hitting Brandon Marsh returning to left field in place of the right-handed-hitting Cristian Pache, given the Braves are starting a righty in Strider. Aside from that, the Phils are using the same lineup they used down the stretch against righties.
Braves: Atlanta matched MLB’s single-season home runs record (307), and it became one of the first teams to draw legit comparisons to the 1927 Yankees. This offense became the first AL/NL team to produce a slugging percentage of .500 or better. Marcell Ozuna (1.090 OPS), Matt Olson (1.046 OPS), Austin Riley (1.008 OPS) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (.956 OPS) all had great success against the Phillies this year. With the Phils starting a left-hander, the Braves decided to start the right-handed-hitting Kevin Pillar.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Phillies: With two off-days following their NL Wild Card Series sweep -- and another off-day between Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS -- the Phillies will have their full complement of relievers available. Manager Rob Thomson will continue to use José Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel interchangeably in the eighth and ninth innings, depending on matchups. To bridge the gap, Philadelphia will lean on some combination of Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm and right-handers Hoffman, Seranthony Domínguez and Orion Kerkering. Michael Lorenzen was not on the roster for the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series, but he’ll likely be added for the best-of-five NLDS, giving Thomson another potential option out of the bullpen.
Braves: Snitker was able to govern his relievers’ workloads over the regular season’s final two weeks and while playing simulated games this week. This fresh bullpen will have A.J. Minter, Pierce Johnson and Joe Jiménez serving as the primary setup men for closer Raisel Iglesias. Minter and Brad Hand are the only left-handers, and Hand had success this past month against Schwarber and Harper.
Any injuries of note?
Phillies: Rhys Hoskins is on the 60-day IL following left ACL surgery in March. The Phillies have said Hoskins has a chance to play this postseason, but it would not happen until the World Series. Even then, Hoskins would be limited to DH or pinch-hitter duties. He is in Clearwater, Fla., where he’s continuing to rehab and face live pitching as part of Philadelphia's stay-ready group.
Braves: Charlie Morton will miss the NLDS because of a strained right index finger. Max Fried will likely start Game 2, but there is some concern about a blister that developed in both of his final two regular-season starts.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
Phillies: Stott struggled down the stretch, but he had an RBI single in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, then smashed a grand slam in the clincher. Turner had a .931 OPS from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, then turned in a multihit effort in each of Philadelphia’s Wild Card Series games.
Braves: Olson (11 HR, 1.147 OPS), Acuña (11 HR, 1.111 OPS) Ozuna (9 HR, 1.034 OPS) were three of the game’s hottest players after August ended. Braves catchers hit .168 with a .559 OPS after the All-Star break.
Anything else fans should know?
Phillies: The Phils have won each of their previous two postseason series against the Braves (1993 NLCS and 2022 NLDS). Marsh is 4-for-11 (.364) with a homer in his career vs. Strider, making him the only active Philadelphia player hitting above .225 against Atlanta’s ace. As for some of the Phillies who have struggled the most against Strider, Turner is 0-for-14, Stott is 2-for-19 (.105), Realmuto is 2-for-13 (.154) and Castellanos is 3-for-17 (.176).
Braves: Atlanta has won eight of its past 10 playoff games at Truist Park, going back to the start of the 2021 postseason. Riley is 6-for-15 with two doubles and a homer against Suárez. Andruw Jones will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 1.