Nick Pivetta, Phillies set for key series against Braves

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Nick Pivetta looks to ride the momentum of two consecutive strong starts when he takes the mound on Monday against the Braves.

If familiarity breeds contempt, then the Phillies and Braves should pretty much hate each other by now.

The teams will kick off their fourth series already this season on Monday and it’s not even Memorial Day. Atlanta is coming in off a stirring comeback win over Miami on Sunday. The Phillies arrive having split a four-game series in St. Louis.

The Braves lead the NL East by 1½ games over the Phillies, so the Phils would need to sweep to get a piece of first place. So what if the calendar hasn’t yet hit June? First place is a nice spot for either of these two generally young teams.

Phillies stats | Braves stats

Poll

Which team has a better shot at reaching the playoffs this season?

 The pitching matchups

Monday (7:05 p.m., NBCSP)

Atlanta: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 2.87)

Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (3-2, 3.72)

Notable: Foltynewicz is 4-2, 3.74 in 10 games against the Phillies (nine starts). He’s 1-0 in three starts against the Phils this year with a 2.12 ERA. Rhys Hoskins, Carols Santana and Maikel Franco each homered off Foltynewicz this season. Odubel Herrera is 6-19 (.316) in his career off Foltynewicz with two doubles and a homer. … Pivetta is 3-1, 3.48 in six career starts against the Braves. This will be his fourth start this season (0-1, 5.14). He has not gotten past the fifth inning in any. Ender Inciarte is 8-for-14 (.571) off Pivetta, while dangerous slugger Freddie Freeman is just 1-for-12 (.083).

NL East W-L Pct. GB
Atlanta 28-17 .622
Phillies 26-18 .591 1.5
N.Y. Mets 23-19 .548 3.5
Washington 24-21 .533 4
Miami 17-29 .370 11.5

 

Tuesday (7:05 p.m., NBCSP)

Atlanta: RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-2, 5.05)

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (4-4, 4.37)

Notable: McCarthy, a 13-year veteran, has made only six career starts against the Phillies, but is 3-1 with a 2.50 ERA. He made his first start at Citizens Bank Park on April 29 and picked up the victory in a 10-1 Braves win. … Velasquez was chased in the third inning on March 31 when the Braves drilled the Phillies, 15-2, in a game that will be remembered for Gabe Kapler bringing in Hoby Milner, who had not even warmed up. Velasquez is 0-3 with an 8.52 ERA against Atlanta this season. He has allowed homers to Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo and Ryan Flaherty.

Camera icon Michael Bryant / Staff
Vince Velasquez, who will start the second game of this upcoming series against Atlanta, has struggled in his career against the Braves.

Wednesday (7:05 p.m., NBCSP)

Atlanta: TBA

Phillies: Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.82)

Notable: The Braves used Matt Wisler in a spot start on Friday and sent him to triple A immediately afterward. … It has been nearly two years since Arrieta last faced the Braves. Oddly, Wisler was the opposing pitcher. Arrieta is 3-1, 2.76 in five career starts against Atlanta.  He’s coming off his shortest outing of the season when the Cardinals chased him after just three innings on Friday. He threw just 64 pitches and afterward manager Gabe Kapler said the quick hook was precautionary. Arrieta had an abbreviated spring because he signed with the Phillies on March 12.

 

Atlanta’s season so far (28-17)

The Braves came into Sunday first in the National League in team batting and second in runs per game, home runs and on-base percentage. They scored six in the ninth to beat the Marlins, 10-9, so those rankings aren’t going anywhere. The Braves also are second in stolen bases and times caught stealing.

“I hope I provide them with an atmosphere where they can go out and enjoy their job,” unheralded manager Brian Snitker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently.”That’s my goal. I’ve always been one where I’ll let the talent go out there and ride.” Atlanta was 72-90 in 2017.

Phillies’ season so far (26-18)

After a slow start, the Phillies were nine games above .500 before losing Sunday to the Cardinals. The Phils have feasted at Citizens Bank Park (16-6) and would have a better record if not for closer Hector Neris’ three blown saves in 11 chances. Rhys Hoskins has just two homers since April 22.

Three stars for Atlanta

• Sean Newcomb, SP: Leads a rotation that entered Sunday with a 3.37 ERA, which was fourth in the majors. Newcomb, 24, is 5-1, 2.39. As a rookie last year he was 4-9, 4.32.

• Ozzie Albies, 2B: Is among the National League leaders in numerous categories, including home runs (13) and runs scored (42). The only player in the majors younger than Albies (21) is teammate Ronald Acuna (20), who has cooled after a blistering start.

• Nick Markakis, RF: Then there’s 34-year-old Markakis, whose .343 batting average is second in the NL to Herrera’s .344.

Three stars for the Phillies

• Aaron Nola, SP: Took just his second loss of the season on Sunday in St. Louis and — like Atlanta’s Newcomb — will not start a game in this series.

• Odubel Herrera, CF: Had his 45-game on-base streak snapped on Sunday, the fourth-longest in franchise history.

[Giving historical perspective to Odubel’s streak]

• Nick Pivetta, SP: The Phillies are 7-2 in his starts and he’s coming off consecutive strong outings.

 After this series

These teams won’t see each other again until September when Atlanta hosts a four-game set (Sept. 20-23). The Phils are home for three with the Braves (Sept. 28-30) to finish up the regular season.

And finally

The heartwarming story of Braves reliever Jesse Biddle continues. The Philadelphia native who was a Phillies first-round pick in 2010 is enjoying a measure of success after finally reaching the big leagues with Atlanta in April.

Eight of his 10 appearances have been scoreless, including April 29 when he pitched two shutout innings at Citizens Bank Park. Righthanders are hitting just .129 against him, but lefties are raking .533.