As the pennant races come down to the wire, Big League Stew will be there to take a closer look at some of the biggest series.
The Situation: With an ace on the mound for each of the three games in the series (which begins Monday night), the Phillies could extinguish the Braves' chances of winning the NL East. If the Phillies sweep, their magic number would be four with nine games to play. Conversely, the Braves would pull even in the standings by sweeping at Citizens Bank Park — which would be a first. Philly comes in having won seven straight and 19 of 23; Atlanta has lost 10 games in the standings over the past two months.
Previously On: The Braves, who lead the season series 7-5, took two of three when they met at CBP in early July, with Roy Halladay(notes) taking the opener for the Fightins. Chase Utley(notes), Placido Polanco(notes) and Carlos Ruiz(notes) missed that series with injuries. Jason Heyward(notes) missed it for the Braves.
What's Left: They meet again, for the final three games of the regular season, at Atlanta's Turner Field.
For Starters: Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy is probably not the ideal guy to lead the charge into Philly, but it's who the Braves have after Jair Jurrjens(notes) pulled up lame with a sore knee. Capitol Avenue reports that Beachy's minor league record is just peachy (48-6 K/BB ratio) but that's the thing — it's only a minor league record. He opposes Cole Hamels(notes) (3.01 ERA), who is coming off a 13-strikeout game. On Tuesday, rookie Mike Minor(notes) is scheduled to face Roy Halladay (2.49), who is looking for his 20th victory. That doesn't really favor the Braves, either, though Wednesday's matchup of Tommy Hanson(notes) (3.62 ERA) against Roy Oswalt(notes) (1.94 ERA with Phillies) offers some hope. Possibly.
Triad: As we head toward the postseason, take note of what it's like for a probable playoff team to face the three-headed monster of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt. Is it as much fun as it seems?!
Sons of farmers: Hours before the first pitch, Jayson Werth(notes) announced that his new agent shall be ... Scott Boras, who referred to the Phillies as a "viable alternative" once his client hits the free-agent market this offseason. The upside: Werth has no less of a reason to stay on his game down the stretch as a big personal payday awaits.
Fandango: Though the playoffs are two weeks away, expect the atmosphere inside CBP to be at its towel-wavingest. The Braves come off a sweep of the Mets at Citi Field — which doesn't sound like much — but it did include a dramatic-ish go-ahead grand slam by Derrek Lee(notes).
"I don't think any of us are looking at it as 'Oh my God, we've never been here before.' I got to play in the playoffs when I was 21. I can't imagine it being any more nerve-wracking than it was then. There's a lot of young guys in here. But we all expect to be here. We all expect to produce at this level. I don't think anything is going to take us away from that."
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