It's a series that had the makings of a huge, classic battle for the division, but no longer has that meaning for the Phillies, who have already clinched the National League East title. It does, however, still mean everything to the Braves, whose post-season lives are on the line.
As the Phillies (95-64) begin a 3-game series to close out the regular season against the Braves (90-69) at Turner Field, Atlanta leads the National League Wild Card standings by 2 games over the Padres. A single win in the series for Atlanta locks down at least a play-in game for the Wild Card. 2003 was the last time the Eastern Division had two representatives in the NL playoffs.
Braves manager Bobby Cox will be honored prior to Saturday's game. Cox is slated to retire following the 2010 season. Atlanta hopes to extend his tenure as the man in charge beyond Sunday and can do so with any combination of their own wins and Padres losses that total 2.
Rookie Brandon Beachy, who struck out 9 in his last outing against the Nationals, will take the mound for the Braves in game 1. The Phillies will counter with Kyle Kendrick, who went 1-3 with a 5.06 ERA in September.
Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and loads more information on this series.
Friday, 7:35pm. Kyle Kendrick (10-10, 4.76 ERA) vs. Brandon Beachy (0-1, 2.89 ERA). In 9 career games against Atlanta, Kendrick has a 4-1 record w/ a 2.53 ERA. In his most recent 4 outings against the Braves, Kendrick has a 0.72 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Kendrick is 2-3 with a 5.47 ERA. Beachy, a righty, will be making his 3rd big league start. Signed in 2008 as an undrafted free agent out of Indiana Wesleyan University, Beachy went 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA in 35 games at 2 levels of the minors this season.
Saturday, 4:10pm. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA). In 14 road starts this season, Hamels has posted a 5-5 record with a 3.02 ERA. In 4 games against the Braves this season, Hamels is 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA. Hamels is expected to see limited innings in this outing, as it is simply a tune up for the post-season. In 5 career starts against the Phillies, Hanson is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA. In his last 6 starts, Hanson is 2-1 with a 2.04 ERA. Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, Ross Gload, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard are a combined 5-for-40 (.125 avg) against Hanson.
Sunday, 1:35pm. Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (16-9. 2.76 ERA). Worley, a rookie, will be making his second Major League start. Worley was an Eastern League All-star in 2009 and 2010 with the Phillies' Double A affiliate in Reading. Worley has struck out 9 batters in 8 innings pitched in the big leagues. In 17 career starts against the Phillies, the right-handed Hudson has posted a 5-7 record with a 3.71 ERA. In each of his 2 starts against the Phillies this season, Hudson has thrown 6 innings and allowed just 2 earned runs...he went 1-1 in those games. In his career against Hudson, Ryan Howard is 14-for-39 (.359 avg) with 6 homers and 12 walks.
In 99 career games against the Braves, Ryan Howard is a .327 hitter with 34 HR, 92 RBI and a 1.083 OPS. Howard has hit more HR at Turner Field (16) than he has at any other road ball park.
Jayson Werth has a 1.001 OPS in 14 games against the Braves this season. In his last 14 games, Werth posted a .347 batting average with 6 homers and 17 RBI.
Placido Polanco is a career .322 hitter in 64 career games against Atlanta. Polanco received a cortisone shot in his elbow on Wednesday and is expected to play this weekend.
Atlanta reliever Takashi Saito has a 0.96 ERA in 11 career games against the Phillies. In 26 home games this season, Saito has a 2-0 record with 1 save and a 1.80 ERA. Saito has been sidelined with shoulder issues recently, but it expected to pitch this weekend.
Martin Prado leads the Braves in runs scored this season with 100. In 52 career games against the Phillies, Prado has a .319 batting average.
In 25 September games, Brian McCann batted .226 and tied a career low for RBI's in a month in which he played in 20 or more games at 7.
Follow PhoulBallz.com on Twitter by clicking HERE.