All of Braves Country is asking the same question: “Where are the paper bags?”

After dropping game one of the NLDS to Philadelphia – and being shutout for the first time at home in 2023 – all of the hyperventilating is understandable. Philadelphia was gifted the first run in Saturday’s opener. Nemesis Bryce Harper hit a laser to make it 2-0. Holding the lead, Philly added a final insurance run late, giving the Philthies a philthy 3-0 win.

The Wheel(er)s on the bus go round and round

Understandably, Atlanta’s fan base is going into Game Two with bated breath. Zach Wheeler is one of the best in the game, and Rob Thompson hands Wheeler the ball tonight. Thankfully, Max Fried will be on the bump for Atlanta and lives for these situations.

Wheeler has a lifetime ERA of 3.18 against the Braves. He has made 27 starts, thrown 170 innings, and is big-time starting pitcher. Oh, how I wish we had landed him a few years ago. He has a career ERA of 2.55 in the post-season and has dominated most of the Braves lineup in head-to-head matchups. In three starts in 2023, he has been just a tick worse. He has a 3.32 ERA in those three starts. The worst of the three was the middle one, where the Braves scored six runs and chased Wheeler after five innings of work.

Watching Ronnie round the bases after a blast of Wheeler is one of the things Braves fans need to see tonight!

Ronald Acuña Jr. has enjoyed the most success. He is 12-for-46 with four HRs, four doubles, and seven RBIs. Acuña carries a .900 OPS, as well. Austin Riley is 11-for-40 with a homer, five doubles, and four RBIs. Ozzie Albies and Matt Olson have each homered twice, and Travis d’Arnaud has slashed .381/.435/.571 in 21 ABs. Look for d’Arnaud to be in tonight’s lineup.

Happy Frieday, y’all!

Whereas the Wheels on the bus have gone round and round, Fried has been fry-ed by the Phils in his career. The Philly bats have been philthy against Max, slashing .299/.349/.495 in 194 ABs . In addition to walking 16 times, the the Phightins (as old friend Chip Caray would say) have belted eight homers and 12 doubles, as well.

This is not the look we are after tonight, Max! We are hoping for Mad Max, the one who had his ankle mashed in the 2021 World Series, to show up and show out tonight in NLDS Game Two.

I’m sure this will not surprise y’all, but Harper, JT Realmuto, and Trea Turner have feasted on Fried food in head-to-head battles. Realmuto has hit three home runs, hit .350, and has an OPS of 1.024 in four career ABS off Fried. Turner slashes .400/.462/.543 for a 1.005 OPS, and Harper has been almost as successful. Harper bats left-handed, and still crushes Fried (.300/.400/.567). In addition to the big three, I’d keep my eye on Nick Castellanos if I was Fried. The Philthies right-fielder is 8-for-13 with a homer run against Max.

In one start against Philly this summer, Fried allowed four hits and one run in five innings of work. He struck out six and walked two in a no-decision. When I take that into account, and the way that Fried shoved in the ’21 post-season, there is reason for the Braves to be optimistic today. But if you are more inclined to doom and gloom, I’d be sure I could answer the question, “Where are the paper bags?”

The Wheel(er)s on the bus will be falling off tonight behind this Braves lineup.

The Wheels on the bus are falling off

Here’s tonight’s lineup. Accordingly, the Braves intend to make the Wheel(er)s on the bus fall off. First pitch at Truist Park will happen at 6:07 ET/5:07 CT. Let’s chat it up again tonight!