Home Sports Stark: Phillies-Braves 2.0 — Ready for an NLDS rematch that includes baseball’s greatest rivalry?

Stark: Phillies-Braves 2.0 — Ready for an NLDS rematch that includes baseball’s greatest rivalry?

Stark: Phillies-Braves 2.0 — Ready for an NLDS rematch that includes baseball’s greatest rivalry?

Here we go. Or ought to we are saying: Here we go once more.

Saturday in that feverish baseball hotbed of Atlanta, Ga., it’s the National League Division Series rematch we’ve been ready for the final 355 days. It’s Braves versus Phillies within the finals of the NL East October Madness Regional.

And whereas it’s principally true that the sequel isn’t nearly as good as the unique, are we certain that’s going to use to Braves-Phillies 2.0?

Let’s go along with no, as a result of A) this isn’t “Return to the Blue Lagoon,” and B) that was clearly how the occupants of a beer-soaked clubhouse in Philadelphia have been voting Wednesday night time.

“It’s gonna be a war,” stated Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm, wanting as if he’d simply accomplished swimming 800 meters in an Olympic-sized pool crammed with Budweiser.

Minutes earlier, the Phillies had completed sweeping one other NL East rival, the Marlins, within the Wild Card Series, with a 7-1 thrashing in entrance of an introduced crowd of 45,738 roaring people whose vocal cords is probably not the identical for six months. Bryson Stott squashed the primary grand slam of his big-league life. Aaron Nola spun seven shutout innings. The sounds of the native baseball anthem, “Dancing on My Own,” rocked the South Philadelphia night time, in 45,000-part concord.

And when the music lastly died down, the Phillies have been nonetheless dancing, all proper, onward to Atlanta, the place one of the best group in baseball awaits.

The Phillies have fun after sweeping the Marlins. Next up: a date with the Braves. (Bill Streicher / USA Today)

No one has to clarify to the Phillies that the Braves are the powerhouse on this sport. Those Braves received 104 video games. They completed the season with the identical Weighted Runs Created Plus (125) because the mighty 1927 Yankees. They broke extra information than Michael Phelps.

But none of that may be a secret to the NL East runners-up. These two groups have performed one another 36 instances within the final two seasons. But the 4 they every keep in mind most are the 4 video games of the 2022 NLDS, when an 87-win Phillies group upset a 101-win Braves juggernaut, in a sequence that has reverberated by means of the baseball bloodstreams of each groups and fan bases ever since.

In Philadelphia, it was a sequence that ignited a love story between a metropolis and its baseball group that’s nonetheless raging. In Atlanta, it’s a reminiscence the Braves would love to extinguish subsequent week. So what may it carry us? Before we get into that, how ’bout a little bit historical past lesson?

Has any two-time division champ ever been ousted from the postseason by the identical division rival two years in a row? I requested that query to my pals from STATS Perform late Wednesday night time. The reply will rekindle some recollections.

Only twice within the wild-card period have any two division rivals met within the postseason two Octobers in a row. See should you can guess which of them:

2003-04 Yankees–Red Sox: In 2003, Aaron Bleeping Boone occurred, and the Yankees broke New England’s hearts another time. In 2004, essentially the most stunning baseball comeback of all time occurred, and the Red Sox lastly stomped out the Curse of the Bambino. Epic.

2004-05 Astros–Cardinals: In 2004, the Cardinals survived the best seven-game sequence no one remembers (as a result of the Red Sox and Yankees solid a large eclipse over the remainder of the postseason). In 2005, the Astros survived Albert Pujols’ breathtaking Game 5 lead-flipping, ninth-inning homer off Brad Lidge, and went on to play of their first World Series.

But what’s the lesson there? That by no means has any group succeeded in doing what the Phillies will try and do within the subsequent spherical: topple the first-place group in their very own division in two postseasons in a row. So does that historical past matter? Well, we’re about to search out out.

So now what? Let’s start with an neutral observer, Marlins supervisor Skip Schumaker. His group confirmed up in Philly this week with huge desires of doing to the Phillies what Arizona did to Milwaukee. Then one thing very completely different occurred — by which he means Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola occurred. The Marlins scored one run off them in 13 2/3 innings of ace-esque mastery, and that was that.

“Wheeler and Nola,” Schumaker stated. “Those guys are going to haunt my dreams. Last year they kicked us out (when he was the bench coach) in St. Louis. And this year they kicked us out here in Miami.”

Zack Wheeler will begin Game 2 for the Phillies. Aaron Nola will begin Game 3. (John Geliebter / USA Today)

But subsequent week, they’re the Braves’ downside, not his. At least not anymore. The Marlins performed the Phillies and Braves 28 instances mixed this yr. So how do they stack up? Schumaker has some ideas.

On how they match up: “They are two of the best teams in the major leagues that we face. Incredibly tough to navigate a lineup, as far as bullpen matchups. There are no holes. There’s star power up and down the lineup that are postseason-tested.”

On whether or not the Phillies’ pitching can shut down the Braves’ thumpers: “The Nola-Wheeler combo right there was as good as you’re going to find in the major leagues. And their back-end bullpen, with (José) Alvarado and a playoff-tested (Craig) Kimbrel — and (Gregory) Soto was throwing 102 mile an hour sinkers, whatever it was. They are really tough, and they’re coached really, really well.”

On the terrifying Braves offense: “Obviously the Braves are … we didn’t really know how to pitch them, honestly. I don’t think the league did. We were trying everything, and it starts with, obviously, the top and that middle of the order. … They make you pay when you make a little bit of a mistake.”

The Braves hit 307 residence runs this season, 58 greater than the next-closest group. (Robert Edwards / USA Today)

So this shall be superior, Schumaker stated. So superior, in truth, that even after spending the final seven months getting bludgeoned by each of them, “I’m looking forward to watching it,” he stated, and promised he meant each phrase of that. But should you haven’t paid as shut consideration because the Marlins supervisor has, maybe you’re asking one other query:

Why would this even be shut? After all, the Braves completed 14 video games forward of the Phillies within the NL East standings. The Braves additionally scored 151 extra runs (947-796), whomped 87 extra homers (307-220) and topped the Phillies in OPS by an eye-popping 80 factors (.845-.765).

But perhaps, Phillies supervisor Rob Thomson urged, that is one time when wanting on the totality of that six-month season won’t paint an correct image.

“The one thing the Braves did,” Thomson stated Wednesday night time, “is they played consistent baseball all year long. I mean, from day one, they really didn’t go into any large losing streak that I know of. And we struggled getting out of the gate, so that’s something we’ve got to work on in spring training. But I think we’re playing very good baseball right now. And I think it’s going to be a really good series.”

So what Thomson and people gamers he manages wish to do is think about that the season really began on June 3, which is about when these Phillies lastly confirmed up and commenced enjoying, over the following 4 months, like a 101-win group.

If we begin the comparability recreation with simply these final 4 months, we discover that the Braves and Phillies have been both the 2 greatest groups within the National League the remainder of the way in which, or at the least have been in a three-way dialog that additionally included the Dodgers.

From that time on, the Braves and Phillies ranked 1-2 within the NL in wins, homers, slugging, barrels, common exit velocity and a bunch of different offensive departments, conventional and non-traditional.

But on the opposite aspect of the ball, in that span, the Phillies ranked No. 1 within the league in pitching Wins Above Replacement, in accordance with FanGraphs. And the Braves positioned a surprisingly distant sixth. But it was Atlanta that ranked first in employees strikeout share (24.7 %), with the Phillies an in depth third (23.9) and Miami wedged in between them (at 24.5).

So there’s an argument to be made that the Phillies have a provide of arms deep sufficient to neutralize all these Braves mashers, whereas uncertainty concerning the well being and readiness of Max Fried and Charlie Morton creates questions on whether or not the Atlanta rotation can do the identical to the Phillies’ nine-deep offense on this NLDS.

We’ll discover that out on the sector, too, in fact. But there’s another factor it’s best to know:

This is a Rivalry, with a capital “R.”

At a time when Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants and Cardinals-Cubs are now not the storybook materials we’re used to, is it attainable that this — Braves versus Phillies — is abruptly …

The greatest rivalry in baseball? Hey, why the heck not. Both groups used that phrase, “rivalry,” repeatedly once they performed one another in residence and away matchups final month. And whereas the Braves received the season sequence, eight video games to 5, the Phillies received 4 of the seven video games in Atlanta … to not point out each NLDS video games in Philadelphia final October.

But are you conversant in rivalries and the way they actually work? It isn’t numbers that outline them — any type of numbers. It’s the look in all these eyes and the emotion that pulsates by means of the ballpark that actually outline one of the best rivalries in sports activities. And it’s all there when these two groups play.

“I mean, it’s a war, man,” Bohm stated. “It’s a bunch of really good players on the field, just battling. They don’t give anything away, and they play clean baseball. They’ve got a good team, and we’ve got the same. …

“It’s this time of year. You play 27 outs, and you battle it out, and you just see where the chips fall.”

The Braves clinched the NL East title in Philadelphia final month. (Eric Hartline / USA Today)

“These games are stressful,” Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto stated. “Very stressful. Just navigating through that lineup is not easy because they have guys that have really good at-bats, and they do damage throughout their whole lineup — a lot like I feel our lineup is. So there’s a reason why both of us keep showing up every postseason and having series like this.”

So right here we go. Fire up your favourite narratives, no matter it takes. Braves search revenge … Phillies search to show final yr was no fluke. … You understand how these things works. But should you actually know, you perceive that it isn’t narratives, or final yr’s spotlight reels, that resolve any postseason sequence.

“We’re starting over,” Realmuto stated. “It’s a brand new series. They had an incredible year this year. But we all know we have confidence in this clubhouse, and I think last year’s series helped that. But that doesn’t mean we can just show up and beat them. We’ve got to play well. And we’ve got to do what it takes.”

But Realmuto additionally confessed {that a} yr later, he nonetheless finds himself desirous about this electrical NLDS Game 3 second — the Rhys Hoskins bat-slam lengthy ball that felt as if it fueled all the pieces that got here afterward, on the Phillies’ stunning journey to the World Series.

And because the beer suds flowed in his clubhouse Wednesday night, he discovered himself questioning what The Next Moment will appear like, in Braves-Phillies 2.0.

“I can’t wait,” Realmuto stated. “Hopefully, it’s going to be every bit as exciting — and it leads to the same result in the series.”

(Top photograph of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Bryce Harper: Eric Hartline / USA Today)

Source web site: theathletic.com