Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Probably the Last Hurrah for Jeremy Hellickson

Phillies (35-64) vs. Braves (48-52)
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The Phillies' season-long 10-game homestand continues tonight as they begin a four-game, wraparound series with the Atlanta Braves.

It's been about six weeks since the Phillies played the Braves and Atlanta looks a bit different these days.

1. Tougher task this time
Freddie Freeman has played only three games against the Phillies this season because of a wrist fracture that kept him out from May 18 until July 4. Unfortunately for the Phils, they'll have to deal with him this weekend.

Freeman returned ahead of schedule from the injury and has been playing a new position, third base, to allow Matt Adams to stay in the lineup. It gives the Braves more power but also affects their infield defense, because Freeman is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman and Adams is not.

But offensively, it unquestionably makes Atlanta better. Freeman has hit .332/.435/.683 this season with 18 homers and 39 RBIs in just 56 games. Had he performed at this level without missing time, he'd be leading the majors in home runs.

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Freeman hasn't hit for as much power since returning from the DL - six doubles, four homers in 81 plate appearances - but he's hit .315 with a .383 on-base percentage. He's such a good hitter and such a tough out.

In 116 career games against the Phillies, Freeman has hit .301/.390/.477 with 23 doubles, 16 homers and 67 RBIs. He's 3 for 10 with a double, a homer and three walks against tonight's Phillies starter, Jeremy Hellickson.

2. Hellickson's last hurrah?
It's pretty likely that Hellickson will be traded by Monday's 4 p.m. deadline, even if the Phillies get little to nothing in return. Hellickson doesn't have much trade value - he's a rental fourth or fifth starter - but he's a better option for the Orioles than Ubaldo Jimenez, a better option for the Mariners than Yovani Gallardo. (Those are just two examples of where he could end up.)

Hellickson is 6-5 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts. His WHIP is a respectable 1.26; the league average is 1.35. But his ERA is this high because he's allowed 22 home runs in 112⅓ innings. Last season, he allowed 24 homers in 189 innings and his ERA was a full run lower at 3.71.

Hellickson's last start was not good. He gave up six runs on put nine men on base in five innings against the Brewers. It was his second straight start lasting just five innings.

One of Helly's best outings of the year came against the Braves back on April 21 when he allowed two runs over seven innings and didn't walk a batter. 

A good start from Hellickson tonight wouldn't do much to boost his trade value, but a poor start could certainly affect it. 

Current Braves have hit just .224 with a .279 OBP in nearly 170 plate appearances vs. Hellickson. 

Nick Markakis has by far the most at-bats against him and is 10 for 53 (.189) with two homers. 

Matt Adams is 2 for 2 with a homer and a walk. 

Matt Kemp is 7 for 22 (.318) with a double, triple and a homer.

3. How's Howie?
Howie Kendrick was hit by a pitch on the wrist in Wednesday night's 9-0 Phillies win over the Astros. He left the game early and is day to day. Luckily for the Phillies and Kendrick, he avoided a fracture, but it just continues a frustrating season for Kendrick, who has hit .340 with a .851 OPS despite missing significant time.

This was awful timing for the Phils, who are looking to flip Kendrick for a young prospect or two. If he's forced to miss a week or so, he'd be more of an August trade candidate. Either way, the Phillies should be able to move him because he's a solid hitter capable of playing five positions.

In terms of the Phillies' outfield alignment, Kendrick's being out does make Pete Mackanin's decisions easier. Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr all have to start every day because they're building blocks, and the Kendrick injury solves that outfield situation.

4. Teheran's turn
The Phillies face 26-year-old right-hander Julio Teheran, who has had a down year for the Braves but has been better of late.

Teheran is 7-8 with a 4.67 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, a season after posting a 3.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 30 starts. The biggest difference has been his control - Teheran has four more walks this season in 72 fewer innings than he had in 2016.

In July, however, Teheran has a 2.45 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 25⅔ innings. 

Teheran has faced the Phillies 15 times and is 7-4 with a 2.79 ERA. In 93⅔ innings, he's allowed just six home runs. 

Current Phillies have no homers against Teheran in 124 at-bats. Freddy Galvis (8 for 21, three walks) and Cameron Rupp (8 for 22, two doubles) have seen him the best. Cesar Hernandez is 2 for 20; Altherr is 1 for 12 with seven strikeouts.

5. This and that
• The Phillies' nine extra-base hits Wednesday night against the Astros were their most in a game since 2010.

• Rupp's last 12 starts: 15 for 40 (.375) with three doubles, four homers, eight RBIs and 10 runs scored. His OPS is up to .750.

• Maikel Franco is on pace for 25 homers and 88 RBIs. He had exactly 25 homers and 88 RBIs last season. Unfortunately, his OBP has been higher than .320 in just one of 10 months the last two seasons.

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