Braves at Phillies
The Atlanta Braves have enjoyed pronounced highs and lows already this season, as manager Brian Snitker's charges answered a five-game losing skid by winning five in a row before getting swept in a three to conclude a seven-game homestand at SunTrust Park. The Braves look to stop the bleeding when they begin a nine-game road trip on Friday with the first of three contests against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Atlanta's Freddie Freeman endured a rare tough night by going hitless in four at-bats during Thursday's 3-2 setback to Washington to see his batting average dip from a league-best .440 to .407. The 27-year-old will look to regain his rhythm versus Philadelphia, against which he shredded last season by batting .362 with six homers, 11 RBIs and 19 runs scored. While Freeman's been blistering hot, slugger Maikel Franco had been ice cold by going hitless in a career-high 22 consecutive at-bats before belting a homer and double as the Phillies claimed a rare series victory over the New York Mets with Thursday's 6-4 triumph. The 24-year-old's recent success could cool quickly as Franco has struggled mightily against Friday starter and fellow Dominican Bartolo Colon, recording just one hit in 16 career at-bats.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN South (Atlanta), CSN Philadelphia
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Bartolo Colon (1-1, 4.24 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Jeremy Hellickson (2-0, 1.59)
Colon was downright masterful in his last outing, permitting a solo homer as his only hit over seven innings in a 9-2 rout of San Diego on Sunday. While pitching for the Mets last season, the 43-year-old recorded a no-decision and picked up a pair of wins in his three outings at Citizens Bank Park. Colon has limited the current crop of Phillies to a .188 batting average, with Michael Saunders (2-for-16, six strikeouts) and Odubel Herrera (5-for-27, nine strikeouts) singing sour tunes.
Hellickson, who provides a veteran presence on an otherwise young Philadelphia starting rotation, continued to lead by example in his last outing. The 30-year-old permitted two runs on four hits in seven innings of a 4-2 victory over Washington on Saturday. Hellickson has issued just one walk in all three of his starts this season and boasts an impressive 0.82 WHIP while allowing just a .186 batting average by his opponents.
1. Atlanta LF Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his return from a 10-game absence due to a strained hamstring.
2. Philadelphia 2B Cesar Hernandez is 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in his last two contests on the heels of an 11-game hitting streak.
3. The Braves won 11 of the 19 meetings between the NL East rivals last season, including five of nine at Citizens Bank Park.