(Photo credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Right-hander Spencer Strider will try to improve his case for the National League Cy Young Award while stopping the Braves' four-game losing streak when Atlanta faces the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday in the second contest of a three-game series.
Strider (17-5, 3.73 ERA) will square off against Philadelphia left-hander Cristopher Sanchez (2-4, 3.40) in a rematch of a matchup from last Wednesday, a 4-1 Atlanta win that clinched the Braves' sixth straight NL East championship.
The Phillies (82-68) hit five home runs and won 7-1 on Monday night. Philadelphia has a 3 1/2-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks and a four-game lead over the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds for the No. 1 NL wild-card spot. Atlanta (96-54) leads the season series with the Phillies, 7-4.
Strider bounced back in his last start following two subpar efforts. He pitched seven innings and allowed one run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts to earn the win against Philadelphia.
Strider leads the major leagues in wins and strikeouts (259 in 169 innings). He is also tied for ninth in WHIP (1.083) and sits fifth in opponents' batting average (.206). His 424 career strikeouts as a starter are the most for a pitcher through his first 50 starts since 1983, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Strider has made 49 starts. He also 37 strikeouts in 13 relief appearances.
In seven career appearances (six starts) against the Phillies, Strider is 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA.
"Everybody thinks I should have animosity toward Philly," Strider said. "But for me, when I'm on the mound, every team sucks. They're all the enemy."
Sanchez will be making his 17th start of the season. He has made two career appearances (one start) against Atlanta in his career, going 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA.
Sanchez's lone start against the Braves came last Wednesday in the loss to Strider, when he worked 7 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits with one walk and a career-high 10 strikeouts.
"That's going to be a key arm for us going down the stretch," Philadelphia designated hitter Kyle Schwarber said of Sanchez.
Sanchez got eight strikeouts and 18 swings and misses on his changeup in the start against Atlanta.
"I think they probably haven't seen a changeup like that out of other guys," Phillies catcher Garrett Stubbs said. "It's an elite one, especially from a left-handed pitcher."
Philadelphia broke out the bats on Monday and matched its season high with five home runs. Since Aug. 1, the Phillies have outhomered the Braves 90-89. Schwarber, who hit his 45th home run of the year on Monday, has a career-high 120 walks, only nine short of the franchise record set by Lenny Dykstra in 1993. Philadelphia is 42-14 in games Schwarber has scored a run since he was moved to the leadoff spot on June 2.
Schwarber needs one RBI to join a list of 12 other players who have had 100 runs, 100 RBIs, 120 walks and 45 home runs in a single season dating back to 1920. Babe Ruth did it eight times.
Atlanta right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. returned to the lineup on Monday after leaving Friday's game against the Marlins and missing the last two games with right calf soreness. Acuna went 1-for-4 with a double in his return.
--Field Level Media