Heading into the Phillies season, many felt that the ultimate challenge would be the Atlanta Braves.   With top young starters like Max Fried and Ian Anderson, along with veterans like Charlie Morton, and young, impressive bats like Cristan Pache, Ronald Acuña, Jr., and Marcell Ozuna along with 2020 MVP Freddie Freeman, the Braves were seen as the top challenge for the 2021 Phillies.

So far, challenge met.

The Phillies trio of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin with strong defense behind them showed that the Phillies can hang with the Atlanta Braves.  That likely means that they can keep up with everyone else, when led by this starting trio.

Here were the pitching performances this weekend:

Nola -  6 2/3 IP, 6H, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 K, 0 BB
Wheeler - 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 10 K, 0 BB
Eflin - 7 IP, 4H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 BB

So the Phillies starters allowed just one walk the entire three-game series.

In 2020, the Phillies bullpen would have helped ruin some of these pitching performances.  Instead, the Phillies did not allow a single run in their 6 1/3 innings of work.

The Phillies would have expected to see the numbers four and five starters for the New York Mets when they open a three-game series tonight in South Philadelphia.  But instead, thanks to a postponed first series due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the Washington Nationals, the Mets will be experiencing their Opening Day tonight against the Phillies.

Therefore, they will come with their ace, Jacob deGrom, who would have otherwise faced Nola on Wednesday.  The Phillies counter with Matt Moore, making his first start of 2021,

Tuesday night, the Phillies face Marcus Stroman, who comes with a strong track record, though he missed most of 2020.  The Mets will pitch David Peterson against Chase Anderson on Wednesday.   The Mets lost Carlos Carrasco to a torn hamstring, and Noah Syndergaard remains shelved as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

The Mets last played a game a week ago today in Grapefruit League action against the St. Louis Cardinals.   So the Mets will be well-rested, but have been missing the rhythm of live game action.

Speaking of rhythm, the Phillies bats did not find theirs against the tough Braves pitching.  The Phillies averaged three runs a game during the three-game series. The Phillies were fifth in all of MLB in 2020, averaging 5.10 runs per game.  So there is more to be said for this Phillies offense.

Especially against deGrom, the offense will make the difference in this series. If the Phillies can put some runs together, their strong start will continue.

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