Phillies vs Braves

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The 2018 season begins for the Atlanta Braves on Thursday when they open up a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies at SunTrust Park.

Like the Braves, the Phillies are a team that is seemingly on the rise in the NL East. They have the sixth-best farm system in baseball according to Baseball America with several of their top prospects set to arrive in the majors.

While the offseason was quiet for most teams, the Phillies made a series of significant additions. The biggest of which was signing former Cubs starter Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million contract. Philadelphia is hoping that Arrieta can be a stabilizing force for a young rotation. He posted a 3.53 ERA (4.16 FIP) in 168.1 innings for Chicago last season.

The Phillies also fortified their lineup inking former Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million deal. Santana hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs in 154 games with the Indians last season. He will combine with Rhys Hoskins in what they hope will be a solid 1-2 punch in the middle of the order.

Fresh off of an eight-game, three city road trip, the Atlanta Braves return home to open up a seven-game homestand with a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta went 4-4 on their trip winning the series in Colorado, dropping 2 out of 3 to the Nationals and then splitting two games in Chicago before Sunday’s rainout.

The Braves missed an opportunity to return home 5-3 but blew a 10-2 lead to the Cubs thanks to a nine-run eighth inning. Weather conditions were awful for both teams but walk led to Atlanta’s demise. Overall the bullpen has performed well this season but has accumulated a high number of walks and they came back to burn them on Saturday.

Atlanta took two out of three from the Phillies during the opening weekend in what was a controversial series for Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler.

Since then, the Phillies are 8-3 and have won six straight having swept Cincinnati at home and Tampa Bay on the road.

Nola was at the center of the first Kepler controversy when he was pulled after 68 pitches on Opening Day despite having not allowed a run. Hoby Milner came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Freddie Freeman. Atlanta went on to erase a 5-0 deficit and win on walk-off home run by Nick Markakis.

Nola has been solid sense allowing just three runs over his next two starts. He is coming off of an eight-inning performance against the Reds where he allowed three hits and one run. If there is a concern, he has seen his walk totals on the rise having tallied seven over his last 13 innings.

The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season is finally upon us.

The new campaign will begin on Thursday, March 29. From there, the 30 teams will make the six-month trek with an eye on reaching the postseason. Of course, not every team has realistic playoff aspirations. But that’s the beauty of Opening Day: Every team can pretend otherwise.

Longtime divisional rivals do battle here in the opener for the second year of the Braves’ home, SunTrust Park.

The NL East belonged to the Braves from 1991-2005 and then the Phillies from 2007-11, but both teams have gone through a rebuild the past few years. Both are on the last legs of the rebuild and look to see growth toward contention again this season, with the Phillies, in particular, coming off a relatively aggressive offseason in signing Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta.

The Braves won’t be with the crown jewel of the system, Ronald Acuna, just yet, but there’s plenty of excitement with the likes of Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte, and Ozzie Albies.

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