Phillies-Braves 5 Things: Give Jerad Eickhoff Some Run Support

Update: 2:15 p.m.

Phillies (19-14) at Braves (7-24)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

After yet another one-run win Tuesday night, the Phillies go for their 20th victory of the season Wednesday in Atlanta. If they get it, they'd reach 20 wins in 19 fewer games than it took last season. A win would also give the Phils a 7-4 series record.

Let's get set for Game 2:

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1. Winning notes
The Phillies are 12-3 in one-run games this season, with their last seven wins coming by one run. The Mariners and Reds have the second-most one-run victories in baseball with seven apiece.

The Phils are also one of just six teams in baseball with a winning record at home (8-5) and on the road (11-9). The others are the Cubs, Nationals, Mets, Red Sox and White Sox.

This is already the Phils' fourth winning streak of at least three games in 2016. Last season, they didn't have their first three-game win streak until May 13-15, and had eight all season.

2. Another successful start
Adam Morgan was impressive last night, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings to pick up his first win of the season and lower his ERA from 6.00 to 3.94.

Morgan, a command guy, has had a much better fastball so far through three starts, averaging 92.5 mph a year after averaging 89.6. That's pretty significant, and if it continues it should allow him to not have to hit his exact spot with each pitch.

The Phillies' starting staff has the third-best opponents' batting average in baseball at .227, behind only the Cubs and Nationals. They have the fourth-most strikeouts with 196 and fourth-fewest walks with 49, creating the second-best K/BB ratio in the majors at 4.0.

For the most part, this entire staff has been efficient. Phillies starters have averaged 15.6 pitches per inning, which is fifth-fewest in the majors. The MLB average is 16.4.

3. Eickhoff's turn
Jerad Eickhoff has given the Phillies two quality starts in a row, but they haven't been the caliber of performances he was turning in early this season or late last year. In 12 innings over his last two starts, he's allowed 12 hits, six runs, two walks and struck out six. He's done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, though, inducing 23 groundballs.

Eickhoff (1-4, 4.21) has pitched better than his record and ERA indicate. He's struck out 34 batters and walked seven in 36⅓ innings, giving him 83 K's and 20 BBs in 87⅓ career frames. Through 14 big-league starts, he has a 3.30 ERA and 1.09 WHIP but is just 4-7.

That said, spacious Turner Field is the place to be for an opposing starting pitcher this season. The Braves are 1-16 at home and have the weakest offense in the sport. Eickhoff faced the Braves once last year and had a no-decision despite pitching seven shutout innings.

Eickhoff has received just 11 runs of support in six starts this season.

4. Perez, not Chacin
The Phillies were supposed to face 28-year-old former Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin tonight, but he was traded to the Angels early Wednesday afternoon. Instead, the Phils will face 24-year-old righty Williams Perez, who is 0-0 with a 5.11 ERA in three starts.

Perez was sent down to Triple A after his third start. He didn't go deep in any of those outings, last 4⅔ innings, 4⅓ and 3⅓. 

Perez made 23 appearances (20 starts) for the Braves last season, going 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA. He's struggled with control throughout his brief big-league career, walking 4.1 batters per nine innings.

Perez faced the Phillies three times last year and went 2-1 with a 6.35 ERA. Current Phils have hit .317 off of him (13 for 41) with two doubles and a homer. Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera had three hits apiece off Perez.

Perez is a three-pitch pitcher: sinker, changeup, curveball. His sinker averages 91.5 mph and he uses it more than 71 percent of the time. It had the desired effect in his second start this year - despite allowing three runs on eight hits, Perez induced 17 grounders among 20 balls put into play.

5. Slumpbuster for Franco?
Maikel Franco had the night he so desperately needed, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer and two runs scored in the Phils' series-opening win. Despite slumping for three of the six weeks this season, Franco's power has been relatively consistent. He has five doubles and seven home runs for a .471 slugging percentage, and he's on pace for 34 HR and 88 RBIs.

Regardless of results, Franco is swinging better the last few games. He's lined out several times, and even on the out he made Tuesday, he was able to pull his hands in and square up a ball on the inside part of the plate for a lineout to center.

Wouldn't be shocked if this was the beginning of a nice little run for the Phillies' third baseman. He just needs to be better at identifying that slider away. He's seeing it a lot on the first pitch and falling behind in counts because he tends to chase it. It's the kind of pitch most right-handed hitters struggle with the most, because you either swing through it or make weak contact with it, rolling over for a 6-3. All part of the learning process.

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