Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Herrera, Franco Heating Up Just in Time to Face Their Nemesis - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Herrera, Franco Heating Up Just in Time to Face Their Nemesis

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Herrera, Franco Heating Up Just in Time to Face Their Nemesis
    CSNPhilly.com
    Phillies-Braves 5 things: Herrera, Franco heating up just in time to face their nemesis

    Phillies (19-35) at Braves (24-30)
    7:35 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

    The Phillies carry their first winning streak since April 26-27 into a nine-game road trip starting Monday night in Atlanta.

    The Phils have played just one series so far with the Braves (April 21-23) and swept them.

    The teams have gone in opposite directions since, with the Phillies falling to the bottom of the majors and the Braves going 13-10 since their low-point.

    Let's take a look at the opener of the four-game series:

    1. Phils' bats heating up
    In the wins over the Giants Saturday and Sunday, the Phillies combined for 14 runs on 21 hits and 12 extra-base hits.

    Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco are finally trending up (see story). Herrera this weekend went 5 for 8 with four doubles, a homer and six RBIs. Franco, who had the game-winning homer Sunday, is 6 for 16 with a double and a homer over his last four games.

    For weeks, we've heard that the Phillies "are a better team than they've shown." But in truth, there hasn't been a ton to back that up. 

    Perhaps now they're finally in the opening stages of breaking out of a teamwide offensive funk. They'll certainly see some hittable pitchers this week in Atlanta: Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey.

    2. Pivetta returns
    Nick Pivetta is back up to make a start in place of the injured Vince Velasquez. 

    Pivetta went 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA in four starts from April 30 to May 18 before being optioned back to Triple A. Once back with the IronPigs, Pivetta made two strong starts, allowing three runs in 13 innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

    The Phillies are hoping Pivetta's control can translate this time. He allowed 18 hits and four home runs in his first two major-league starts, then walked eight batters over his next two. He's shown mid-90s, swing-and-miss stuff, but he needs to get ahead in more counts and do a better job of hitting the corners.

    In his four starts up here last month, Pivetta threw first-pitch strikes to just 41.1 percent of hitters. The MLB average is 60.1 percent.

    3. Galvis' power
    Freddy Galvis' on-base percentage is way too low, we all know that. He's hitting .236 with a .287 OBP this season after placing last in the majors in 2016 with a .274 OBP.

    But he has a penchant for big hits and timely home runs. On Sunday, he had the first multi-homer game of his career and went deep from both sides of the plate for the first time in his life.

    He became the first Phillie since Jimmy Rollins in July 2011 to homer from both sides in a game.

    Galvis has six homers and 28 RBIs this season after posting 20 and 67 last season. He's on pace for 18 homers and 84 RBIs, numbers you'll take from a shortstop all day long. 

    Even with the low OBP, Galvis is a valuable player if he's driving in runs at that clip because he's also a defensive whiz. He was a Gold Glove finalist last year and has stood out again in 2017. In the half-inning before his second homer Sunday, Galvis fell down and snagged a Hunter Pence rocket with his backhand to start a double play. It was just as impressive as either home run.

    Whatever you think of RBIs, Galvis has more of them than star shortstops Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor and Xander Bogaerts. 

    4. Colon slowing down
    For years, we've wondered when Bartolo Colon's effectiveness would run out. How long could he consistently get outs throwing a 90 mph fastball/sinker combo 85 percent of the time?

    It appears the magic is leaving him at age 44. Colon is 2-6 with a 6.99 ERA this season. His .325 opponents' batting average is the highest in the majors.

    This is Colon's first season in Atlanta after three in New York. With the Mets, he posted a 3.90 ERA in 98 games and his opponents hit more than 50 points lower at .274.

    You know things are going bad for Colon when even the Phillies hit him. From 2014-16, he went 10-3 with a 3.01 ERA against the Phils. When he faced them April 21 at Citizens Bank Park, he allowed four runs on 11 hits over seven innings in a loss.

    Colon has been Franco's nemesis, holding him to 1 for 19. Herrera has been almost as bad, going 6 for 31 with 10 strikeouts. Howie Kendrick, who did not face Colon in late April, is 2 for 25. 

    The only Phillies you could say have had some degree of success vs. the portly Dominican are Cesar Hernandez (9 for 26, two doubles), Cameron Rupp (7 for 22, double) and Aaron Altherr (4 for 16, two doubles).

    Current Phillies have 209 at-bats against Colon and a grand total of one home run, which belongs to Galvis.

    5. This and that
    • Most of the Phillies' offseason additions - Clay Buchholz, Michael Saunders, Joaquin Benoit - have not worked out, but the Pat Neshek trade has. Neshek has allowed two earned runs and 17 baserunners in 21⅓ innings for a 0.84 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. He's been by far the Phillies' best reliever.

    • The Braves have held their own since Freddie Freeman broke his wrist, going 8-9. Freeman will likely return just after the All-Star break.

    • A major reason the Braves' offense has stayed afloat is Matt Kemp. Finally healthy and comfortable in his surroundings, Kemp is hitting .335 with a .949 OPS, 16 doubles, 10 homers and 30 RBIs this season. 

    The Braves acquired him last summer in a salary dump from the Padres and are probably wondering why San Diego gave him away. In exactly 100 games with the Braves, Kemp has hit .306/.351/.547 with 31 doubles, 22 homers and 69 RBIs.

    • Watch out this week for former Phillies Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte. He had the game of his life Sunday, going 5 for 5 with a homer and five RBIs. It was his second 5-for-5 game in the last two weeks. Inciarte, who leads off for the Braves, has hit .380 with a .420 on-base percentage over his last 100 plate appearances.