The Braves will take the field in Game 2 at Truist Park tonight hoping to avoid falling in a 2-0 hole before they travel to Philadelphia for Game 3. Max Fried will be on the bump, with Zack Wheeler toeing the rubber for the Phillies. There might not be a pitcher the Braves would rather have on the mound in a must-win game other than the veteran Fried, but the task for this offense, which has been in an otherworldly slump when it comes to their last five postseason games, will not get any easier against Wheeler, who led all pitchers in fWAR this season.
Atlanta’s offense has been historically good in 2023. They are first in nearly every offensive category, tied the MLB record for most home runs in a season, and became the first club ever to have a slugging percentage above .500 as a team. However, they couldn’t muster one run off of Ranger Suarez and the Philly bullpen, getting shutout for the first time since the middle of May.
Whether it’s the extended rest following a first-round bye or just the jitters of the postseason, this is an offense that has been lifeless in its last five postseason contests, hitting under .200 as a team with a .555 OPS and 51 strikeouts.
In 5 NLDS games vs. the Phillies over 2 postseasons, #Braves have hit .176 (28-for-159) w/ a .247 OBP and .308 slug% (.555 OPS), with 6 doubles, 5 homers, 1 steal, 14 walks, 51 strikeouts. They've been outscored 27-13, and 6 of ATL's 13 runs came in a 7-6 Game 1 loss last year.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) October 9, 2023
Credit has to be given where it is due to the Phillies pitching staff. They have some dudes on the other side, but this is a lineup that is built to be a wrecking ball no matter who is on the mound across from them. Their identity is mashing homers and breaking the will of opposing pitchers. They’ll have to find that identity tonight, or this could be another brief trip to the postseason for the second consecutive year following a season in which they won 100+ games.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire