The Phillies woke up two games behind the Braves in the NL East Tuesday, when Atlanta was dealt a big blow.
Their ace, left-hander Max Fried, was placed on the injured with a left-side muscle spasm in his lumbar spine retroactive to Sunday.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos gave Sept. 16-18 as a target for Fried’s return.
Fried is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in nine starts. He’s pitched 50 innings and hasn’t allowed a home run.
All other Braves starting pitchers this season are 3-10 with a 6.91 ERA.
Fried has faced the Phillies twice this season and beaten them twice, allowing one run in 10 innings and striking out 11.
The Braves lost their other young stud, Mike Soroka, to a season-ending torn Achilles at the beginning of August. Soroka was 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA last season and was the Rookie of the Year runner-up to Pete Alonso.
Mike Foltynewicz, an All-Star two years ago, was designated for assignment at the end of July.
Remember, too, Atlanta is still without Cole Hamels, signed to a one-year, $18 million contract in the offseason. Two days ago, Hamels was finally cleared to throw live BP for the first time this season.
The Braves also signed Felix Hernandez to pitch at the back of their rotation. He opted out of the season because of COVID concerns.
Atlanta’s rotation without Fried will include:
• Robbie Erlin: 7.06 ERA in six games (four starts)
• Kyle Wright: 7.20 ERA in four starts
• Tommy Milone: 8 runs, 14 hits in 6⅓ innings
• Josh Tomlin: 5.19 ERA, .294 opponents’ batting average in four starts
• Ian Anderson: 2-0, 2.40 ERA in three starts
The Phillies and Braves will not meet again this season after splitting their 10 games. Atlanta is 24-17; the Phillies are 20-17.
If the season ended today, the Braves would face the 21-21 Giants in their first-round Best of 3. The Phillies would face the 26-17 Padres. That’s the potential difference between winning your division or finishing in second place this season.