Philadelphia (81-75) at Atlanta (83-72)
When: Tuesday, September 28th 2021
Where: Truist Park,
Time: 7:20 ET | TV: FS1
Opening Odds: Atlanta -120/8
The National League East comes down to one final week between the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Game 1 of their three-game set takes place Tuesday night at Truist Park in Cumberland, Georgia with a good pitching matchup – Zack Wheeler vs. Charlie Morton. The Phillies had a chance to stay just 1.5 games behind Atlanta, but couldn’t take care of business against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. That coupled with Atlanta holding off a San Diego rally on Sunday afternoon, now has these two teams separated by 2.5 games. To say it’s a must-sweep for the Phillies is an understatement. Anything less than that and Philadelphia has to pray the Mets beat up the Braves this weekend and the Phillies take care of business at Miami. A sweep by the Braves means it’s all over and Atlanta will head to Milwaukee for the NL Division Series.
Atlanta is trying to win its fourth consecutive division championship but are just 7-9 against Philadelphia this year. The Braves have won seven of their last eight games overall not counting the loss in San Diego on Friday that was the completion of a suspended game from earlier this year. The Phillies had won five in a row before a 6-0 loss to the Pirates in the team’s home finale at Citizens Bank Park.
Pitchers: Phillies – Zack Wheeler (14-9, 2.79) | Braves – Charlie Morton (13-6, 3.53)
Wheeler has had an outstanding season and will be in the mix come Cy Young voting time. He leads the league in innings pitched (206.1) and strikeouts (240), both career highs. He also has three complete games and two shutouts. In his last four starts, Wheeler has allowed three total runs in 23.2 innings. In four starts against Atlanta this season, Wheeler owns a 2-1 record and 1.35 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26.2 innings.
Morton is a big-time pitcher in these type of situations. He’s won five of his last six playoff starts and this will be a playoff-type game. Over his last 18 starts, the right-hander has a 2.95 ERA but allowed three runs over six innings in his last outing – a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has started four times against Philadelphia in 2021 and allowed three or fewer runs in three of those.
This should be a good series and I’ll give the Braves the edge tonight. I know the Phillies have their best pitcher on the mound, but this Atlanta lineup is really heating up. The Braves don’t play well at home, but Philadelphia is seven games under .500 on the road. Look for Morton to be locked in with a solid outing here.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free MLB Picks page for today.
Pick: Braves -120