Phillies (70-86) at Braves (63-92)
7:05 p.m. on CSN
After losing by three possessions on Sunday and getting an off day Monday to think about it, the Phillies are back in action Tuesday night to begin their final road series of 2016.
Let's take a look:
1. The finish line nears
Forty-nine down, two to go. The Phillies have just two series left this season, a three-gamer in Atlanta and then a set with the Mets at home to close it out.
The Phils have a series record of 18-25-6. They have just six series wins in 21 tries since the All-Star break (6-12-3).
The Phillies and Braves have played seven times in the second half and the Phils are 2-7 — they split a four-game series July 28-31 in Atlanta and were swept at home Sept. 2-4.
With 70 wins, the Phillies have already beaten their over-under by four victories. If they manage to split these final six games, they'll finish 10 games better than they did in 2015.
The Braves, meanwhile, will avoid 100 losses. That didn't look possible when they were 33-66 and on pace for 109 losses. But Atlanta has been much better the last six weeks, especially offensively.
2. Freeman's monstrous year
Whether it was the addition of Matt Kemp or just regression to his true talent level, Freddie Freeman has been a force of nature this summer.
Freeman started slowly. Through June 12, he was hitting .242 with a .750 OPS in 61 games. Since then? He's hit .347/.445/.673 with 33 doubles, five triples, 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 91 games. The Braves are just three games under .500 over that span at 44-47.
It's pretty amazing that Freeman has had an MVP-caliber season in a lineup that offers so little protection. This has been the best year of his seven-year career. In 669 plate appearances, he's hit .305/.402/.570 with 43 doubles, six triples, 32 homers and 87 RBIs. He's also walked 86 times.
Freeman's best work this year has come against the Phillies. In 16 games, he's gone 22 for 60 (.367) with a .449 OBP, five doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs.
3. The push toward 200
Jerad Eickhoff makes his 32nd start of the season tonight and will likely have one more on the final day. He enters tonight's game with 187⅓ innings pitched, 12⅔ shy of the 200-inning benchmark every pitcher seeks.
Eickhoff said early in the summer that 200 innings would be meaningful for him and acknowledged it just sounds different than 195. It's taken health, stamina and consistency for Eickhoff to get to this point at age 26 in his first full big-league season.
Eickhoff (11-14, 3.75 ERA) has made six consecutive quality starts. He's steadied the Phillies' rotation for four months now. Since May 22, Eickhoff is 10-8 with a 3.52 ERA, but if you remove the one dreadful outing at hitter-friendly Coors Field, his ERA over that span is 3.13. He very well could be the opening day starter in 2017.
Eickhoff has faced the Braves five times in his career and gone 2-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Freeman is 5 for 14 against him with a double and a homer, but all other active Braves have hit a combined .209 with no extra-base hits in more than 75 plate appearances.
4. Last look at Teheran
The Phillies take on talented Braves right-hander Julio Teheran for the third time this season and 15th time in his six-year career.
Could it be their last time seeing him in an Atlanta uniform? That's always a possibility for the rebuilding Braves with Teheran, who has long been an intriguing trade candidate. A 25-year-old with a 3.37 career ERA, Teheran figures to have immense trade value this offseason. He's on one of the more team-friendly contracts in baseball, due $31 million over the next three seasons.
If Teheran is eventually dealt for a package of prospects, the Phillies won't be sad to see him go. He's 7-4 with a 2.31 ERA and has allowed just five home runs to them in 89⅔ career innings. His starts against the Phillies the last three years have been even better: 6-2, 1.39 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 13 walks, one homer allowed in 71 innings.
His last time out, Teheran allowed just one run over seven innings to the Mets, but struck out only one batter. He hasn't missed many bats lately, generating just three swings-and-misses in his last start and six two outings before that.
Teheran has five pitches but mostly uses a four-seam fastball/slider combination. When he last faced the Phillies on Sept. 4, 90 of his 119 pitches were four-seamers or sliders.
Current Phillies have hit .219 collectively against Teheran in 169 at-bats. Freddy Galvis has seen him the best, going 7 for 18 (all singles) with three walks. Ryan Howard has two doubles and two solo homers off Teheran in 26 ABs.
5. This and that
• File this one under stats nobody would have predicted: The Braves have the highest on-base percentage in the majors since the All-Star break at .346. The Phillies are fifth-worst at .306.
• In games with Atlanta, Kemp has hit .287/.341/.508 with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 35 RBIs. He had 16 walks in 100 games with the Padres and has 18 in half as many games with the Braves. His poor defense has still made him a net negative player this season, if you believe in WAR. The Braves are 26-24 since acquiring him.
• If the season ended today, the Phillies would have the ninth pick in next June's draft. Based on the records of the teams around them, they are a near lock to pick either 8th, 9th or 10th.