Major League Baseball

Braves, Gausman go for sweep of Phillies

BRAVES (62-43) AT PHILLIES (54-50)
1:05 p.m. ET; NBCSP, FSSO, MLB.TV

The performance of right-hander Kevin Gausman on Sunday could help determine how aggressively the Atlanta Braves (+1.5) pursue a pitcher before the trade deadline.

If Gausman pitches as well as he did in his return from the injured list, the club may back off its quest to add a starting pitcher and instead concentrate on finding another arm for the bullpen. But if Gausman struggles, the Braves might resume their pursuit of an extra starter.

Gausman (3-5, 5.71 ERA) will be opposed by Philadelphia ace Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.64) in the finale of the three-game series at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park.

The Braves have won the first two games of the series and improved to 6-5 against the Phillies this year. Atlanta’s 15-7 victory over the Phillies, along with Washington’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers(-1.5), allowed the Braves to expand their lead to 6 1/2 games in the National League East.

Gausman had a successful return from the right foot plantar fasciitis that caused him to miss 34 games, beating the Nationals last Sunday when he allowed one run over seven innings with a season-high eight strikeouts.

“Hopefully he does what he did a year ago for us, because he provided a huge lift,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told reporters recently. “He’s fresh and feeling really good about things.”

Gausman was 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 starts with the Braves in 2018 after coming over from Baltimore. Gausman has had little success in his career against the Phillies, however, going 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in three career starts against the club.

Nola, on the other hand, has been very successful against Atlanta. In 15 career starts against the Braves, he is 9-3 with a 2.26 ERA. In three starts against them this season, he’s 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA — most notably an eight-inning scoreless effort on July 2 when he outdueled Atlanta’s Dallas Keuchel in a 2-0 win.

In his last start against the Detroit Tigers (+1.5) on Tuesday, Nola gave up two runs (one earned) in seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk, but did not receive a decision. In five starts in July, Nola is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

“We’ve got our ace on the mound and it’s important to salvage a game in this series,” Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler told the media. “That team is getting ready for us and we’ve got to get ready for them. They have played better baseball than us. We’re a much better baseball team than we’ve shown against the Braves. We have to get better quickly.”

The Braves are missing two starters. They placed shortstop Dansby Swanson (right foot contusion) and right fielder Nick Markakis (fractured left wrist) on the injured list. Swanson has missed two games with a sore heel and Markakis was hit on the wrist by Cole Irvin on Friday.

Markakis was replaced on the roster by Adam Duvall, who went 3-for-5 with a home run on Saturday. Duvall suffered through a poor spring, but agreed to open the year in Triple-A Gwinnett and attempt regain his form. Duvall, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds (-1.5) a year ago, hit .132 in 33 games for the Braves in 2018. He had back-to-back seasons of 30-plus homers with the Reds. Duvall was leading the International League with 29 homers and had a .931 OPS with Gwinnett when recalled.

–Field Level Media

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