Expert Cappers Picks
Major League Baseball
Philadelphia at Atlanta
When: 7:35 PM ET, Friday, September 21, 2018
Where: SunTrust Park, Cumberland, Georgia

The Philadelphia Phillies have struggled defensively all season, and those shortcomings have resulted in their playoff chances fading rapidly entering Friday’s contest at the first-place Atlanta Braves. The National League East leaders took advantage of several Philadelphia defensive miscues to post an 8-3 victory in Thursday’s series opener, reducing their magic number to clinch its first division title in five years to four as the Phillies fell for the 12th time in 18 September games.

The Phillies, who own a minus-12 run differential and have the second-most errors in the NL, failed to field several hard-hit balls and their pitchers threw three wild pitches as the Braves extended their NL East lead to 6 1/2 games. Shortstop Dansby Swanson and first baseman Freddie Freeman each finished with two runs scored and two hits, and Atlanta finished with three sacrifice flies and three stolen bases. The Braves have won two in a row at home after a four-game losing streak, and a win Friday would put them one victory shy of eliminating Philadelphia from the race. Phillies shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera collected two hits and scored a run in breaking a 0-for-7 skid.

TV: 7:35 p.m. ET, NBCS Philadelphia, FS South (Atlanta)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.67 ERA) vs. Braves RH Julio Teheran (9-8, 3.97)

Pivetta has rebounded from two consecutive rough starts in late August, giving up just eight earned runs over his past four starts but has lost all three of his September outings. The 25-year-old struck out eight in five innings Sunday against Miami, but gave up three runs on four hits in a 6-4 defeat. Pivetta, who has won just once in his past 11 starts, is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts against Atlanta this season.

Teheran struggled with his control Saturday in a loss to Washington, walking six hitters in four innings to suffer his first defeat in his past nine starts. The 27-year-old, the lone pitching holdover from Atlanta’s last playoff team in 2013, has allowed more than three earned runs once since July 24 - including four starts with one earned run surrendered. Teheran has a 4.91 ERA in three starts against the Phillies in 2018, going 1-0 with three homers allowed over 14 2/3 innings.


1. Atlanta improved to 44-23 against NL East competition this season, while the Phillies fell to 32-38.

2. Philadelphia used seven relievers in the series opener, as RHP Luis Garcia gave up four runs on two hits and two walks in the eighth - including a bases-loaded walk to Swanson.

3. Freeman has heated up down the stretch, hitting .404 in his past 12 games.

PREDICTION: Braves 5, Phillies 3
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Philadelphia 78-74 L1 47-31 31-43 32-38 19-14 15-14 12-8
Atlanta 85-68 W2 40-38 45-30 44-23 18-14 15-19 8-12
Last Meeting
Philadelphia Atlanta
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
9/20/18 PHI 3 ATL 8 .188 0 .423 .345 0 .884
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Philadelphia O. Herrera .271 13 .814
Atlanta R. Flaherty .368 14 .941
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Philadelphia O. Herrera 3 4 7
Atlanta O. Albies 3 13 7
Pitching ERA Avg K
Philadelphia 4.51 .215 103
Atlanta 3.00 .272 128
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Philadelphia A. Cabrera .264 143 .777
Atlanta F. Freeman .311 184 .899
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Philadelphia R. Hoskins 32 86 92
Atlanta R. Acuna Jr. 26 73 58
Pitching ERA Avg K
Philadelphia 4.00 .237 1377
Atlanta 3.79 .259 1338