3 storylines for Braves vs. Phillies opening series

MLB: MAY 09 Red Sox at Braves

Major League Baseball didn’t mess around with their scheduling this year, pinning two of the National League’s best teams and division rivals against each other to open the season. Tomorrow, the Braves kick off their 2024 campaign against the Philadelphia Phillies at the same place where the Braves season has ended in each of the previous two years.

There are hundreds of intriguing storylines between these two teams that both have aspirations of winning the NL East title. The Braves are looking for their seventh in a row, while the Phillies are looking for their first division title since 2011. Philadelphia has gotten the best of Atlanta in the last two postseasons, but make no mistake about it, there’s still some envy in that building. The Braves have held the division crown since 2018, and they are still the last team in the NL East to win a World Series. That’s what makes this matchup the one everyone in the baseball world will have their eyes on opening weekend.

Best vs. Best on Opening Day

Not only are the Braves and Phillies two of the best teams in the National League, but they feature two of the best pitchers in the league on each side, and they’ll be squaring off on Opening Day.

Spencer Strider is the talk of baseball. He has the best stuff of any pitcher in the league, and most expect him to take his place on the thrown as the best pitcher in the game sooner rather than later, which is why he’s the favorite to win the NL Cy Young award.

However, Zack Wheeler might just be the most underrated pitcher in all of baseball. He’s 33-years-old and has yet to win a Cy Young award, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pitcher in terms of consistency over the last four years.

What makes this matchup even more appealing is the success both pitchers have had against their Opening Day opponent. Strider has dominated the Phillies to the tune of an 8-0 record with a 1.90 ERA and 13.5 K/9 over eight appearances, and Wheeler has gone 12-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 27 starts against the Braves. If you love pitching, there isn’t a better matchup on Opening Day than the one taking place in Philadelphia.

Brian Snitker Vs. The Philadelphia Crowd

The Phillies have possibly the best home-field atmosphere in the entire sport come October. It truly is a spectacle from the perspective of an observer, and for the most part, 90% of Philadelphia fans are polite and harmless. They are just passionate about their Phillies.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case with all of them. Recently, Brian Snitker came out and said Phillies fans were so rude to his wife and kids that he won’t allow them to go to another game at Citizens Bank Park. It’s despicable really; verbally berating the wife and kids of a player or manager, but some people from Philadelphia wear that as a badge of honor, and I can guarantee they will not take too kindly to Snitker’s statements just ahead of Opening Day. It’s going to be a zoo this weekend, and there will be no shortage of boos and unpleasantries hurled Snitker’s way.

New Faces Making Their Braves Debut

From season to season, one of the most exciting aspects each year is getting a first look at the players making their Braves debut. This year, the biggest additions were Chris Sale, Jarred Kelenic, and Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez won’t make his first start until the second series against the White Sox, but Sale will pitch on Sunday and Jarred Kelenic should get the start in the first two games against right-handed pitchers Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

Beyond that, Aaron Bummer is likely to make his first appearance as a Brave out of the bullpen, and Tyler Matzek could make his triumphant return after missing last season with Tommy John surgery. All of those will be highlights of this weekend’s matchup in Philadelphia.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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