|Braves turn to streaking Keuchel vs. Phillies|
The Atlanta Braves will try to get one step closer to nailing down their second consecutive National League East title when they host the Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday at SunTrust Park.
The Braves will send left-hander Dallas Keuchel (8-5, 3.35 ERA) to the mound to face Philadelphia right-hander Vince Velasquez (6-7, 4.95 ERA) on Tuesday.
The Braves, who finished the weekend with a magic number of four, hope to clinch the division title during their six-game homestand.
While the Braves (93-58) have already clinched a spot in the playoffs, the Phillies (76-72) are struggling to remain alive in the wild-card chase. The frustration is starting to show and a 2-4 homestand ended with a 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox that left Philadelphia 4 1/2 games out of the wild-card chase.
"We have our work cut out for us," said Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper, who was ejected from Sunday's game for arguing a strike call.
Velasquez has never beaten the Braves. He is 0-6 with a 5.36 ERA in 11 career appearances (10 starts) against the Braves. This season he's 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two games (one start). He's allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings against Atlanta in 2019.
Velasquez is 3-1 over his last seven starts, but has a 6.19 ERA in 32 combined innings. In his most recent start on Sept. 8, Velasquez worked 4 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on six hits, with four walks and five strikeouts but had a no-decision as the Phillies beat the New York Mets 10-7.
Keuchel will make his fifth career start against the Phillies; he's 2-1 with a 1.42 ERA against Philadelphia.
Keuchel's last start against the Phillies was on Wednesday. He gave up one run on three hits, three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings of a 3-1 victory.
Keuchel has won his last five starts and has a 0.97 ERA over his last six starts, with 35 strikeouts in 37 innings.
"It's been great," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "The guy competes. He leaves it out there every time he pitches. I mean, he gives everything he has out there. He had to work (in his last start). It wasn't easy, but he just keeps pitching."
Keuchel said, "This nice little run I've been on, I've kind of found the good, late movement two-seam."
Atlanta's bench of veteran players continues to dwindle as the playoffs approach. The Braves lost utility players Johan Camargo and Charlie Culberson to season-ending injuries during their recent road trip.
Camargo fouled a ball off his knee and what was believed to be a contusion turned out to be a fracture.
Culberson's injury was more dramatic. He was hit in the right cheek by Washington Nationals relief pitcher Fernando Rodney and sustained multiple facial fractures. Culberson will not require surgery and did not suffer from impaired vision. He is expected to return for spring training.
"It's probably the best-case scenario to be honest," Snitker said. "All of the fractures are not displaced. It's things that will heal. He's just got to be careful for a while with his activity."
--Field Level Media