At this point, the Phillies may be inclined to get some pitching help and hope underachieving sluggers Bryce Harper and Jean Segura get on track. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told reporters this week there are enough good prospects in the pipeline to use in deals.
“I feel like our organization has enough talent that we can bid on the top names on the market,” Klentak said. “Whether we choose to go down that road or not remains to be seen. It’s really about building an organization that can sustain its competitiveness for a long period of time. In order to do that, we have to preserve young talent.”
Klentak said that before the Phillies won two against the Tigers and the Braves lost two to the Royals. A series victory against the Braves would get the Phillies back in the division race after they were 9-1/2 games behind 10 days ago. The Braves have a chance to push the Phillies back and make Klentak more likely to sit on his hands.
Klentak is in a similar position now as Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos was at last year’s trade deadline. The Braves were within shouting distance of the Phillies and needed bullpen arms, a starting pitcher and lineup depth. The key for Anthopoulos was meeting all those needs without surrendering prospects.
Braves backers excited by the team’s surprising play wanted an accelerated timeline, but I thought Anthopoulos should improve the team whole holding on tight to his best prospects. He deftly threaded that needle. Trade acquisitions Kevin Gausman, Jonny Venters and Brad Brach helped the pitching staff (Adam Duvall flopped, but no GM gets them all right).
At this year's deadline the Braves' needs are (as always) bullpen arms and (maybe) another starter. Two weeks ago, I opined that those needs aren't urgent because the Braves have enough hitting to overcome mediocre pitching to win the East and compete in October. I still believe that even with Austin Riley's struggles, which have been offset by Josh Donaldson's rise.
The Braves have a solid rotation. Dallas Keuchel is finding his form. Mike Soroka will be fine. Everyone seems to keep waiting for Julio Teheran to fade but he’s been reliable for the most part.
Gausman and Max Fried are the question marks. This weekend should provide more clarity for them. Fried is set to start Saturday after missing a turn because of a blister on his finger. Gausman was good in his first start off the injured list and Sunday will start opposite Phillies ace Aaron Nola, who has been great since the Braves beat him up June 15.
You don’t want to make too much of one series in July. But the Braves have a chance to short-circuit Philadelphia’s surge, gain some space from the Nationals and maybe make both East rivals shy away from big deadline moves. Those factors make this weekend more significant than usual for the Braves.